Social Democrats

The development of exchange has created such close ties among an the peoples of the civilized world that the great proletarian movement toward emancipation was bound to become – and has long since become – international.

Considering itself one of the detachments of the universal army of the proletariat, Russian social democracy is pursuing the same ultimate goal, as that for which the social democrats in other countries are striving. This ultimate goal is determined by the nature of contemporary bourgeois society and by the course of its development. The main characteristic of such a society is production for the market on the basis of capitalist production relations, whereby the largest and most important part of the means of production and exchange of commodities belongs to a numerically small class of people, while the overwhelming majority of the population consists of proletarians and semi-proletarians who, by their economic conditions, are forced either continuously or periodically to sell their labor power; that is, to hire themselves out to the capitalists, and by their toil to create the incomes of the upper classes of society. The expansion of the capitalist system of production runs parallel to technical progress, which, by increasing the economic importance of large enterprises, tends to eliminate the small independent producers, to convert some of them into proletarians, to reduce the socio-economic role of others and, in some localities, to place them in more or less complete, more or less open, more or less onerous dependence on capital.

Moreover, the same technical progress enables the entrepreneurs to utilize to an ever-greater extent woman and child labor in the process of production and exchange of commodities. And since, on the other hand, technical improvements lead to a decrease in the entrepreneur’s demand for human labor power, the demand for labor power necessarily lags behind the supply, and there is in consequence greater dependence of hired labor upon capital, and increased exploitation of the former by the latter.

Such a state of affairs in the bourgeois countries, as well as the ever growing competition among those countries on the world market, render the sale of goods which are produced in greater and greater quantities ever more difficult. overproduction, which manifests itself in more or less acute industrial crises – which in turn are followed by more or less protracted periods of industrial stagnation – is the inevitable consequence of the development of the productive forces in bourgeois society. Crises and periods of industrial stagnation, in their turn, tend to impoverish still further the small producers, to increase still further the dependence of hired labor upon capital and to accelerate still further the relative, and sometimes the absolute, deterioration of the condition of the working class.

Thus, technical progress, signifying increased productivity of labor and the growth of social wealth, becomes in bourgeois society the cause of increased social inequalities, of wider gulfs between the wealthy and the poor, of greater insecurity of existence, of unemployment, and of numerous privations forever larger and larger masses of toilers. But together with the growth and development of all these contradictions inherent in bourgeois society, there grows simultaneously dissatisfaction with the present order among the toiling and exploited masses; the number and solidarity of the proletarians increases, and their struggle against the exploiters sharpens. At the same time, technical progress, by concentrating the means of production and exchange, by socializing the process of labor in capitalist enterprises , creates more and more rapidly the material possibility for replacing capitalist production relations by socialist ones; that is, the possibility for social revolution, which is the ultimate aim of all the activities of international social democracy as the class-conscious expression of the proletarian movement.

By replacing private with public ownership of the means of production and exchange, by introducing planned organization in the public process of production so that the well being and the many sided development of all members of society may be ensured, the social revolution of the proletariat will abolish the division of society into classes and thus emancipate all oppressed humanity, and will terminate all forms of exploitation of one part of society by another.

A necessary condition for this social revolution is the dictatorship of the proletariat; that is, the conquering by the proletariat of such political power as would enable it to crush any resistance offered by the exploiters. In its effort to make the proletariat capable of fulfilling its great historical mission, international social democracy organizes it into an independent political party in opposition to all bourgeois parties, directs all the manifestations of its class struggle, discloses before it the irreconcilable conflict between the interests of the exploiters and those of the exploited, and clarifies for it the historical significance of the imminent social revolution and the conditions necessary for its coming. At the same time, it reveals to the other sections of the toiling and exploited masses the hopelessness of their condition in capitalist society and the need for a social revolution if they wish to be free of the capitalist yoke. The party of the working class, the social democracy, calls upon all strata of the toiling and exploited population to join its ranks insofar as they accept the point of view of the proletariat.

On the road toward their common final goal, which is determined by the prevalence of the capitalist system of production throughout the civilized world, the social democrats of different countries must devote themselves to different immediate tasks – first, because that system is not everywhere developed to the same degree; and second, because in different countries its development takes place in a different socio-political setting.

In Russia, where capitalism has already become the dominant mode of production, there are still preserved numerous vestiges of the old pre-capitalist order, when the toiling masses were serfs of the landowners, the state, or the sovereign. Greatly hampering economic progress, these vestiges interfere with the many-sided development of the class struggle of the proletariat, help to preserve and strengthen the most barbarous forms of exploitation by the state and the propertied classes of the millions of peasants, and thus keep the whole people in darkness and subjection. The most outstanding among these relics of the past, the mightiest bulwark of all this barbarism, is the tsarist autocracy. By its very name it is bound to be hostile to any social movement, and cannot but be bitterly opposed to all the aspirations of the proletariat toward freedom.

The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party therefore sets as its immediate political task the overthrow of the tsarist autocracy and its replacement by a democratic republic whose constitution would guarantee:

  1. The sovereignty of the people; i.e., the concentration of the supreme power of the state in a unicameral legislative assembly composed of representatives of the people.
  2. Universal, equal and direct suffrage for all citizens, male and female, who have reached the age of twenty;…a secret ballot in these elections….
  3. Broad local self-government; regional self-government for localities with special conditions of life or a particular make-up of the population.
  4. Inviolability of person and dwelling.
  5. Unrestricted freedom of conscience, speech, press and assembly; the right to strike and to form trade unions.
  6. Freedom of movement and occupation.
  7. Elimination of class privileges and the complete equality of all regardless of sex, religion, race or nationality.
  8. The right of any person to obtain an education in their native language…; the use of the native language together with the state language in all local, public and state institutions.
  9. National self-determination for all nations forming part of the state.
  10. The right of every person through normal channels to prosecute before a jury any official.
  11. The popular election of judges.
  12. The replacement of the standing army by the general arming of the population (i.e. the formation of a people’s militia).
  13. Separation of church and state, and of school and church.
  14. Free and compulsory general or vocational education for all children of both sexes up to the age of sixteen; provision by the state of food, clothes, and school supplies for poor children.

As a fundamental condition for the democratization of our national economy, the RSDRP demands the abolition of all indirect taxation and the introduction of a graduated tax on incomes and inheritances.

To protect the working class from physical and moral degradation, and also to develop its capacity for the liberation struggle; the party demands:Limitation of the working day to eight hours for all hired workers….

  1. A complete ban on overtime work.
  2. A ban on night work…with the exception of those (industries) which absolutely require it for technical reasons….
  3. The prohibition of the employment of children of school age. . . .
  4. A ban on the use of female labor in occupations which are harmful to the health of women; maternity leave from four weeks prior to childbirth until six weeks after birth….
  5. The provision of nurseries for infants and young children in all …enterprises employing women.
  6. State insurance for workers against old age and partial or complete disability through a special fund supported by a tax on capitalists….
  7. The appointment of an adequate number of factory inspectors in all branches of the economy….
  8. The supervision by organs of local self-government, together with elected workers’ representatives, of sanitary conditions in factory housing….
  9. The establishment of properly organized health inspection in all enterprises…free medical services for workers at the employer’s expense, with wages to be paid during time of illness.
  10. Establishment of criminal responsibility of employers for violations of laws intended to protect workers.
    The establishment in all branches of the economy of industrial tribunals made up equally of representatives of the workers and of management.
  11. Imposition upon the organs of local self-government of the duty of establishing employment agencies (labor exchanges) to deal with the hiring of local and non-local labor in all branches of industry, and participation of workers’ and employers’ representatives in their administration.

In order to eliminate the remnants of serfdom, which lie as an oppressive burden on the peasantry, and to further the free development of the class struggle in the countryside, the party demands above all:

  1. Abolition of redemption payments and quit rents as well as all obligations which presently fall on the peasantry, the tax-paying class.
  2. The repeal of all laws hampering the peasant’s disposal of his own land.
  3. The return to the peasants of all moneys taken from them in the form of redemption payments and quitrents; the confiscation, for this purpose, of monastic and church property as well as of lands owned by the emperor, government agencies and members of the tsar’s family; the imposition of a special tax on estates of the land-owning nobility who have availed themselves of the redemption loans; the deposit of sums obtained in this way into a special fund for the cultural and charitable needs of the village communities.
  4. The institution of peasant committees:

a. for the return to village communities (through expropriation or, if the lands have passed into other hands, through purchase by the state at the expense of the large holdings of the nobility) of lands cut off from peasant ownership at the time of the abolition of serfdom and which are now used by the landowners as a means of keeping the peasants in bondage;

b. to transfer to peasant ownership those lands in the Caucasus which they use at the moment on a temporary basis;

c. to eliminate the remnants of serfdom still in effect in the Urals, the Altai, the Western provinces, and other parts of the country.

The granting to the courts of the right to reduce excessively high rents and to declare

null and void all transactions reflecting relations of servitude.

In striving to achieve its immediate goals, the RSDRP will support any opposition or revolutionary movement directed against the existing social and political order in Russia. At the same time, it resolutely rejects all reformist projects involving any broadening or strengthening of police or bureaucratic tutelage over the toiling classes.

The RSDRP, for its part, is firmly convinced that the complete, consistent and lasting realization of these political and social changes can only be achieved through the overthrow of the autocracy and the convocation of a constituent assembly freely elected by the entire nation.

Programme of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDRP), 1 August 1903 Source: General ed. R.H. McNeal, Resolutions and Decisions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, vol. 1: The Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, 1898-October 1917, ed. R.C. Elwood. Toronto, 1974, pp. 42-5.

Socialist Revolutionaries

International revolutionary socialism represents a conscious expression, scientific illumination, and formulation of this movement. Its aim is intellectual, political, and economic emancipation of the working class. It advances above all as an initiating revolutionary minority, as the fighting vanguard of the toiling masses, trying constantly at the same time to merge with the masses and incorporate them into its ranks. Its basic practical aim is to make all layers of the toiling and exploited people awake that they are one working class, that that class is the only hope of their freedom by means of a planned, organized struggle to create a socio-revolutionary upheaval that consists of:

  1. Freeing of all public institutions from control of the exploiting classes.
  2. Eliminating, alongside private property in natural forces and in public means of production, the very division of the society into classes.
  3. Eliminating the contemporary, stratified, compulsory, repressive nature of public institutions while at the same time preserving and developing their normal cultural functions; that is, planned organization of public work for public good.

The realization of this program will make possible an uninterrupted, free, and unhampered development of all spiritual and material forces of mankind. It will also turn the growth of public wealth from a source of dependence and oppression of the working class into a source of prosperity and balanced harmonious development of human dignity. It will also halt the degeneration of mankind from uselessness and superfluity on the one hand, and, on the other, the presence of excessive work and semi-starvation. Finally, only through the introduction of a free socialist society will mankind be able to develop fully its physical, mental, and moral capabilities and introduce realism, truth, and solidarity ever fully into public life. Consequently, the essence of contemporary socialism is the freeing of all mankind. It seeks elimination of all forms of civil strife among peoples, of all forms of violence and exploitation of man by man; instead, it seeks to introduce freedom, equality and brotherhood of all regardless of sex, race, religion or nationality.In the interest of self-preservation the autocracy has intensified the oppression of the subjugated nationalities of Imperial Russia, has paralyzed their spiritual renaissance, has imposed national, racial, and religious antagonism in order to cloud the understanding of socio-political interests of the toiling masses. The existence of autocracy represents an irreconcilable and progressively intensifying contradiction with all of the economic, socio-political and cultural growth of the country. As a reliable ally and pillar of the most exploiting and parasitic classes in Russia, beyond its frontiers Russian autocracy is also one of the main bulwarks of reaction and a great danger to the cause of the freedom struggle of the working parties of other countries. Its overthrow should be the immediate and immediate objective of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, not only as the first indispensable condition for the solution of the social problem in Russia, but also as a major factor of international progress.The burden of the struggle with autocracy, irrespective of the liberal-democratic opposition, which primarily includes middle class elements of the educated society,” falls on the proletariat, the toiling peasantry, and the revolutionary-socialist intelligentsia. The immediate task of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, which assumes the leading role in this struggle, is to broaden and deepen the social and property changes to pave the way thereby for the overthrow of autocracy.To realize fully its program, namely the expropriation of capitalist property and the reorganization of production and of the entire social system on socialist foundations, it is essential that there be a complete victory of the working class, organized by the Socialist Revolutionary Party, and, in case of need, that there be established a temporary revolutionary dictatorship.So long as the organized working class, as the revolutionary minority, can exert only partial influence on the change of the social system and legislation, the Socialist Revolutionary Party must see to it that the working class is not blinded by its partial gains and does not lose sight of its ultimate goal; that by its revolutionary struggle the proletariat would seek in this period such changes that would develop and strengthen its solidarity and ability to fight for freedom, would help to elevate its intellectual and cultural needs, and would strengthen its fighting position and eliminate barriers that hinder its organization.Since the process of the transformation of Russia is led by non-socialist forces, the Socialist Revolutionary Party, on the basis of the above principles will advocate, defend, and seek by its revolutionary struggle the following reforms:

  • In the Realm of Politics and Legislation The establishment of a democratic republic with broad autonomy for oblasts and communes, both urban and rural; increased acceptance of federal principles in relations between various nationalities; granting them unconditional right to self-determination; direct, secret, equal, and universal right to vote for every citizen above twenty years of age regardless of sex, religion, or national origin; proportional representation; direct popular legislation (referenda and initiatives); election, removability at all times, and accountability of all officials; complete freedom of conscience, speech, press, meetings, strikes, and unions; complete and general civil equality; inviolability of the individual and home; complete separation of the church from the state and declaration that religion is a private affair for every individual; introduction of a compulsory, general public education at government expense; equality of languages; free justice; abolition of permanent armies and their replacement by a people’s militia.
  • In the Realm of National Economy
    1. In the matter of labor legislation the Socialist Revolutionary Party sets as its aim the safeguarding of spiritual and material forces of the working class and increasing its capability of further struggle to whose goals should be subordinated all expedient, direct, local, and professional interests of the diverse working strata. In this sphere the Party will advocate: a reduction of the working time in order to relieve surplus labor; establishment of a legal maximum of working time based on norms determined by health conditions (an eight-hour working norm for most branches of industry as soon as possible, and lower norms for work which is dangerous or harmful to health ); establishment of a minimum wage in agreement between administration and labor unions; complete government insurance (for accident, unemployment, sickness, old age, and so on), administered by the insured at the expense of the state and employers; legislative protection of labor in all branches of industry and trade, in accordance with the health conditions supervised by factory inspection commissions elected by workers (normal working conditions, hygienic conditions of buildings; prohibition of work for youngsters below sixteen years of age, limitation of work for youngsters, prohibition of female and child labor in some branches of industry and during specified periods, adequate and uninterrupted Sunday rest, and so forth); professional organization of workers and their increased participation in determining internal rules in industrial enterprises.
    2. In matters of agricultural policy and land relations, the Socialist Revolutionary Party sets its task to be, in the interests of socialism and the struggle against the bourgeois property system, the utilization of the communal as well as the labor views, the traditions and way of life of Russian peasants and especially their views on land as the public property of all the toilers. Consequently, the Party will support socialization of all privately owned lands; that is, their transfer from private property of individual owners to public domain and administration by democratically organized communes and territorial associations of communes on the basis of equalized utilizations. Should this basic demand of the agrarian minimum programmed not be realized at once as a revolutionary measure, the Socialist Revolutionary Party in its future agrarian policy will be guided by consideration of a possible realization of this demand in its entirety, advocating such related measures as: broadening of the rights of communes and their territorial associations in expropriating privately owned lands; confiscation of lands belonging to monasteries, princes, ministers, and so forth, and their transfer, together with state properties, to communes, in order that they would have an adequate amount, and also for the needs of resettlement and redistribution; limiting of payments for the use of land to the amount of clear profit from the farm (less gross revenue of the cost of production and normal remuneration for labor); reimbursement for improvements on land when it is transferred from one user to another; conversion of rent through a special tax into a source of revenue for the communes and self-governing institutions.
    3. In matters of financial policy the Party will agitate for the introduction of a progressive tax on income and inheritance, and for complete freedom from taxation of small incomes below an established norm; it will agitate for the elimination of indirect taxes (except luxury taxes), protective duties, all other taxes that burden labor.
    4. In matters of municipal and land economy, the Party will support the development of all kinds of public services, land agronomy organization, communalization of water supply, education, ways and means of communication, and so forth; will support the granting of broad powers to urban and rural communes to tax immovable property as well as the right to confiscate it if this be necessary to improve the living standards of the toiling population; will support communal and zemstvo as well as governmental policy aimed at helping the development of co-operatives on solid democratic foundation.
    5. With respect to various measures aimed at nationalization of one or another sectors of the national economy within the framework of a bourgeois state, the Socialist Revolutionary Party will support these measures, provided they are accompanied by a democratization of the political system, by a change in social forces, and that the very nature of these measures themselves would provide sufficient guarantee against increased dependence of the working class on ruling bureaucracy. In general the Socialist Revolutionary Party warns the working class against “state socialism,” which is partly a system of half measures for the strengthening of the working class . . . and partly a peculiar type of state capitalism that concentrates various branches of production and trade in the hands of the ruling bureaucracy for their financial and political aims.

Source: V.V. Vodovozov (ed.), Sbornik programm partii v Rossii, 1st edition . St Petersburg, 1905 pp. 20-1.

The Union of the Russian People

Program of the Union of the Russian People, 1905

Russian People!The great manifesto of October 30 granted us civil freedom on the basis of inviolability of person, freedom of expression, conscience, meetings and unions. In spite of this Tsarist grace, under the cover of promised freedom, many of us in fact have joined the darkest slavery of a mysterious, unknown, naked and all-destructive force which arbitrarily determines our fate without any legal authority, issues its own “manifestos” and openly advocates a whole series of impractical demands, such as complete destruction of the Russian army and its replacement by militia subordinate to city administration, organization of a social democratic republic, and so forth. The enemies of the Tsar and of the country, by means of deception, threats, and violence, cause strikes in factories and mills, stop trains, disrupt trade, inflict tremendous loss to the entire state, and deprive hundreds of thousands of poor people of work in order to force them into violence through hunger. Our children are deprived of the possibility of education, the sick are dying, not being able to obtain medicine…. The trouble has not stopped in spite of the fact that we have received freedom, the same “freedom” which everyone has demanded so ardently. God only knows how far this anarchy will lead. One thing, however, is certain: we are proceeding directly to the downfall and destruction of the Russian state. This is why we call upon all those honest Russian people, irrespective of their profession or status, who are loyal to the Tsar, the country, and traditional Russian principles, to unite in order to conduct an active struggle by every legal means against arbitrariness, violence, and other repulsive manifestations of the recently granted freedom.The ultimate aim which this Union of the Russian People must seek is the introduction of a firm, durable, legal order, on the basis of the following foundations:

  1. Unity and indivisibility of the Russian Empire and stability of the basic foundations of Russian statehood, because only firm Tsarist authority, based on a direct union between the Tsar and the people, or their elected representatives, can provide unconditional guarantees for a durable legal order in such a multi-national state as Russia.
  2. Establishment of a State Duma with the right to report directly to the Sovereign, the right to address an inquiry to the ministers, the right to control the activity of the ministers, and the right to petition the Emperor that the former be dismissed and tried in the courts.
  3. Co-ordination of the activity of ministers and establishment of their firm actual responsibility, similar to the responsibility of all other officials, for every irregularity connected with their service and for damages suffered by private individuals, including bringing them to the attention of the Procurator.
  4. Allowing the election of Jews to the State Duma, not more than three persons, elected by the entire Jewish population of the Russian Empire to present in the Duma the special needs of the Jewish population. Such limitation is necessary because of the disruptive, anti-state activity of the united Jewish masses, their unceasing hatred of everything Russian, and the unscrupulousness which they so openly demonstrated during the recent revolutionary movement.
  5. The realization of freedom and inviolability granted by the Manifesto of October 30; that is, protection of individuals from the arbitrariness and violence of officials, of private individuals as well as of all sorts of societies, unions, and committees, both open and secret.
  6. Establishment of a firm criminal responsibility of the press to protect the basic foundation of the state system, based on special legislation similar to that which exists in the countries of Western Europe.
  7. Firm, severe, and actual protection of property rights of private individuals, of societies, and of the state.

The basis of our Union is brotherly love towards neighbors, and we therefore do not allow any of the arbitrariness, force, falsehoods, rumors, distortions and secret or similar means of struggle used by our enemies, by the Tsar’s enemies or by enemies of the country.

The Statute of the Union of the Russian People

I. The Aim of the Union

1. The Union of the Russian People sets as its undeviating goal a durable unity of the Russian people of all classes and professions to work for the general good of our fatherland – a Russia united and indivisible.

II. Programme

2. The well being of the country should consist of a firm preservation of the Russian autocracy, orthodoxy, and nationality, and of the establishment of a State Duma, order, and legality.3. Russian autocracy was created by national wisdom, sanctified by the Church, and justified by history. Our autocracy consists of unity between the Tsar and the people.

Note: Convinced that national well being consists of the unity between the Russian Tsar and the people, the Union acknowledges that the present ministerial bureaucratic system, which separates the pure soul of the Russian Tsar from the people, and which has appropriated a number of rights that truly belongs to the Russian autocratic power, has brought our country to grave troubles and should therefore be changed fundamentally. At the same time the Union firmly believes that a change of the existing order should be accomplished not through the introduction of certain restrictive institutions such as constitutional or constituent assemblies, but rather through convocation of a State Duma as an institution which would represent a direct tie between the autocratic will of the Tsar and the right of the people.

4. The Russian people are Orthodox people and therefore the Orthodox faith remains steadfastly the official religion of the Russian Empire. All subjects of the Empire, however, have the freedom of religious worship.5. The Russian people, as the gatherer of Russian lands and the creator of the great might of the state, enjoy a preferential position in national life and in national administration. Note: All institutions of the Russian state should be united and should constantly strive to maintain the greatness of Russia and the preferential rights of the Russian people that legally belong to them, so that the numerous minorities that inhabit our country would consider it their privilege to be a part of the Russian Empire and would not consider themselves oppressed. Note: The Russian language is and should be the official language of the Russian Empire for all of its people.6. The State Duma, the bulwark of autocracy, should not demand any limitations on the supreme authority of the Tsar. It should only inform him of the real needs of the people and of the state and help the Legislator to realize the necessary reforms.7. The immediate activity of authorities should be directed towards the introduction of a firm order and legality guaranteeing freedom of speech, press, assembly, and unions, and the inviolability of the individual. There should be established a rule that would determine the limits of these freedoms in order to prevent the violation of the established system, the endangering of the rights of other individuals, and thus to protect freedom itself.

III. The Activity of the Union

8. The Union sets as its continuous aim active participation in elections, from among its midst, of members to the State Duma to realize the aims to which the Union subscribes. Note: Problems which the Union believes should be dealt with as soon as possible by the State Duma have been listed in Appendix 1 of the present statute.9. The Union intends to assume the responsibility of providing people with sound education, of developing among the people consciousness in the spirit of autocracy, and of spreading among them Christian foundations, thereby strengthening their patriotism and feelings of debt to the nation, society, and family. Note: The proposed educational activity of the Union will be accomplished through the opening of a greater number of schools, through the preparation of readings, meetings, talks, distribution of appropriate books and pamphlets, and through the publication of newspapers and journals. The foundation of educational activity of Union schools is included in Appendix 2 of the present charter. Appendix 2 (to Article 8 of the Statute) the elementary school does not at all correspond either to the spirit or the needs of the Russian people. The Union sets as one of its main objectives the education of peasant, city, and working population on firm foundations and the development in them of political consciousness and principles of Christianity. Village schools should equip the peasant for the necessities of rural life, agriculture, crafts, and domestic industry

IV. The Organization of the Union

14. Members of the Union can be only native Russians of both sexes, of all classes and professions, who are dedicated to the aims of the Union, who show an indication that they are firmly acquainted with the aims of the Union and who, when they join the Union, will promise not to enter into an association with a secret organization or an organization that pursues aims that are contrary to those of the Union.15. All other persons can be accepted as members of the Union only by the decision of the General Meeting of the members of the Union. Note: Jews cannot become members of the Union.

Source: V. Ivanovich, ed. Rossiiskiia partii, soiuzy i ligi. St. Petersburg: 1906, pp. 117-122.


The Union of 17 October saw its main task as being to contribute fundamentally to the rapid establishment of a constitutional monarchy, on the basis of the manifesto of 17 October, insofar as was possible in our state system, and to the rapid convocation of the State Duma. It called for unity amongst those who sincerely wanted the peaceful renewal of Russia and the triumph of law and order in the country, who rejected both stagnation and revolution and who recognized the need for the establishment of a strong and authoritative regime, which, together with the representatives of the people, could bring peace to the country through constructive legislative work.. . .The basis of the Union’s program [was]:

  1. The preservation of the unity and indivisibility of the Russian state, whilst allowing individual nationalities significant rights in the cultural field;
  2. The development and strengthening of the foundations of a constitutional monarchy with a representative assembly elected on a broad franchise. . . .
  3. The guaranteeing of civil rights, and the inviolability of the individual, his residence, correspondence and property.
  4. The urgent summoning of the State Duma to put through political reforms . . . to deal with such matters as (a) the peasant question – the peasantry should be granted the same civil rights as the rest of the population; peasant land-holding should be extended and regulated
    (b) workers’ insurance, a limitation of the working day and the freedom to form trades unions and to strike
    (c) the development of local self-government . . .
    (d) measures on education
    (e) judicial and administrative reforms
    (f) economic and financial measures to achieve a more rational and just tax system.Source: D.N. Shipov, Vospominaniia i dumy o perezhitom. Moscow, 1918, pp. 404-6.

Excerpts from Program of the Russian Constitutional Democratic (Kadet) Party, 1905

I. Basic Rights of Citizens

    1. All Russian citizens, irrespective of sex, religion, or nationality, are equal before the law. All class distinctions and all limitations of personal and property rights of Poles, Jews, and all other groups of the population, should be repealed.

    Every citizen is guaranteed freedom of conscience and religion. No persecution for religious beliefs or convictions, or for change or refusal to accept religious indoctrination, can be allowed. The celebration of religious and church ceremonies and the spread of beliefs are free, provided these activities do not include any general transgressions contrary to the criminal code of law. The Orthodox Church and other religions should be freed from state protection.Anyone who wishes to express his thoughts orally or in writing has the right to publish and spread them through printing or any other media. Censorship, both general and special, regardless of its name, must be abolished and cannot be reinstated. For their oral or written transgressions the guilty ones will answer before the court.

    1. All Russian citizens have the right to organize public or private meetings, in dwellings as well as in the open air, to examine any problem they wish.
    2. All Russian citizens have the right to organize unions or societies without needing permission for it.
    3. The right to petition is granted to every citizen as well as to all trade unions, gatherings, and so forth.
    4. The person and home of every individual should be inviolable. Entry into a private dwelling, search, seizure, and opening of private correspondence are allowed only in cases permitted by law or on order of the court. individual detained in cities or places where courts are located should be within twenty-four hours; in other localities of the Empire not later than days, or be brought before the court. Any detention undertaken illegally without proper grounds, gives a detained person the right to be compensated by the state for losses suffered.
    5. No one can be subjected to persecution or punishment except on the basis of law by court authorities in a legally constituted court. No extraordinary courts are allowed.
    6. Every citizen has freedom of movement and travel abroad. The passport system is abolished.
    7. All the above-mentioned rights of citizens must be incorporated into the Constitution of the Russian Empire and be guaranteed by courts.
    8. The Constitution of the Russian Empire should guarantee all the minorities inhabiting the Empire, in addition to full civil and political equality enjoyed by all citizens, the right of cultural self-determination, namely: full freedom of usage of various languages and dialects in public, the freedom to found and maintain educational institutions and meetings of all sorts having as their aim the preservation and development of the language, literature and culture of every nationality.
    9. The Russian language should be the official language of the central administration, army, and fleet. The use of local languages alongside the language in state and public institutions and educational establishment supported by the state or organs of local self-government is determined by general and local laws, and, within their competence, by the institutions concerned. The population of each locality should be guaranteed education in the native language in elementary schools, and possibly in subsequent education.

II. Government Apparatus

    1. The constitutional system of the Russian state will be determined by the constitution.
    2. People’s representatives are elected by a general, equal, direct and secret ballot, irrespective of their religion, nationality or sex. The party allows within its midst a difference of opinion on the question of national representation, consisting of one or two chambers in which case the second chamber should consist of representatives of the local organs of self-government, organized on the basis of a general vote and spread throughout all of Russia.
    3. National representation participates in the realization of legislative power, in the determination of government revenues and expenditures, and in control of the legality and expedience of actions of higher and lower organs of administration.
    4. No decision, decree, ukaz, order or similar act not based on the legislative measure of national representation, regardless of its name or place of origin, can have the force of law.
    5. A government inventory, which should include all revenues and expenditures of the state, should be established by law, every year. No taxes, dues, and collections for the state, as well as state loans, can be established other than by legislation.
    6. Members of national representative assemblies should have the right of legislative initiative.
    7. Ministers are responsible to the representatives of the national assembly, and the latter have the right of questioning and interpellation.

III. Local Self-Government and Autonomy

    1. Local self-government should be extended throughout the entire Russian state.
    2. Representatives in the organs of local self-government, being close to the population by virtue of the organization of small self-governing units, should be elected on the basis of universal, equal, direct, and secret ballot, regardless of sex, religion, and nationality, while the assemblies of higher self- governing units can be selected by lower assemblies. Guberniia zemstvos should have the right to enter into temporary or permanent unions among themselves.
    3. The competence of the organs of local self-government should include the entire field of local administration, including police, but excluding only those branches of administration which, under the condition of present state life, must be located in the hands of the central government. Organs of local self-government should receive partial support from sources which now go to the budget of the central government.
    4. The activity of representatives of the central government should be limited to supervision of the legality of acts of the organs of local self- government; the final decision on any disputes or doubts is reserved for the courts.
    5. Following the establishment of rights of civil freedom and proper representation with constitutional rights for the entire Russian state, there should be opened a legal way within the framework of state legislation for the establishment of local autonomy and oblast representative assemblies, with the right to participate in the realization of legislative authority on familiar matters in accordance with the needs of the population.
    6. Immediately following the introduction of the imperial democratic government with constitutional rights, there should be established in the Polish kingdom an autonomous administration with a seim {Parliament} elected on the same basis as the state parliament of Russia, preserving its state unity and participation in the central parliament on an equal footing with other parts of the Empire. Frontiers between the Polish kingdom and neighbouring guberniias shall be established in accordance with the desires of the native and local populations. In the Polish kingdom there should be instituted national guarantees of civil liberty and of the rights of nationalities to cultural self-determination as well as protection of the rights of minorities.
    7. Finland. The Finnish Constitution, which safeguards its special state status, should be fully reinstated. All future measures common to the Empire and the Grand Duchy of Finland should be solved by an agreement between the legislative branches of the Empire and the Grand Duchy.

IV. The Courts

    1. All departures from the bases of the Judicial Statute of November 20 I864, which separated judicial from administrative power (non-removability of judges, independence of courts, and equality of all citizens before the law) as well as the introduction of subsequent new laws are to be abolished… Courts with class representatives are abolished. Matters of volost’ justice are, subject to the competence of an elected justice of the peace. The volost’ and the institution of zemskii nachal’niks are abolished. The demand for property qualifications to perform the functions of a Justice of the Peace as well as that of a sworn deputy is abolished. The principle of the unity of appellate court is re-established. Advocacy is organized on the basis of true self-administration.
    2. n addition to this, the aim of penal policy should consist of:
      (a) unconditional abolition forever of the death penalty;
      (b) introduction of conditional conviction;
      (c) establishment of protection during preliminary investigation; and
      (d) introduction into court proceedings of controvertible rule.
    3. The immediate task centers on the full examination of the criminal code, the annulment of decrees which are contrary to the foundations of political freedom, and the reworking of the draft of the civil code.

V. Financial and Economic Policy

    1. There should be re-examination of government expenditure in order to eliminate unproductive expenses, and to bring about an appreciable increase of state resources for the real needs of the people.
    2. he redemption payments should be repealed.
    3. There should be replacement of indirect by direct taxes, general lowering of indirect taxes, and gradual repeal of indirect taxes on items of general consumption.
    4. There should be a reform of direct taxes on the basis of progressive income, a reform of property taxation, and a progressive tax on inheritance.
    5. In conformity with the condition of individual industries, there should be a lowering of custom duties in order to cut down the cost of products of general consumption and to improve the technical level of industry and agriculture.
    6. Saving banks should be used for the development of small loans.

VI. Agrarian Legislation

    1. There should be an increase of arable land for that part of the population which works the land with its own labor, namely landless and poor peasants – as well as other peasants – by state, princely, cabinet, monastery, and private estates at the state’s expense, with private owners being compensated at a fair (not market) price for their land.
    2. Expropriated land should be transferred to a state and land reserve. Rules by which the land from this reserve should be given to a needy population (ownership, or personal or communal use, and so forth) should be determined in accordance with peculiarities of land ownership and land usage in different parts of Russia.
    3. There should be broad organization of government aid for migration, resettlement, and arrangement of the economic life of peasants. There should be reorganization of the Boundary Office, termination of surveying, and introduction of other measures for bringing prosperity to the rural population and improving the rural economy.
    4. Legislation dealing with the lease relationship should be promulgated in order to protect the right of tenants and the right to re-lease . . .
    5. The existing rules on hiring of agricultural workers should be repealed and labor legislation should be extended to agricultural workers….

VII. Labor Legislation

    1. There should be freedom of labor unions and assemblies.
    2. The right to strike should be granted. Punishment for violations of law which occur during or as a result of strikes should be determined in general terms and under no circumstances should be extreme.
    3. Labor legislation and independent inspection of labor should be extended to all forms of hired labor; there should be participation of workers’ elected representatives in inspections aimed at safeguarding the interests of workers.
    4. Legislation should introduce the eight-hour working day. Where possible, this norm should be immediately realized everywhere, and systematically introduced in other industries. Night work and overtime work should be prohibited except where technically and socially indispensable.
    5. Arbitration offices, consisting of an equal number of representatives of labor and capital to regulate all kinds of hiring which are not regulated by labor legislation, and solving of disputes which may arise between workers and employers, should be established.
    6. Obligatory state medical care (for a defined period), accident and work-connected illness compensations, which are to be contributed to by the employers, should be established.
    7. Criminal responsibility for violation of laws dealing with the protection of labor should be established.

VIII. Problems of Education

Public education should be founded on freedom, democracy, and decentralization in order to realize the following goals:

  1. The elimination of all restrictions on school admissions based on sex, origin, or religion.
  2. Freedom of private and public initiative to found and organize all sorts of educational institutions, including education outside the school; freedom of instruction.
  3. Better liaison should be organized on the between various school classes in order to make easier a transfer from one school to another.
  4. There should be full autonomy and freedom of instruction in universities and other institutions of higher learning. Their numbers should increase. The fee for attending lectures should be lowered. Institutions of higher learning should organize education to meet the needs of broad layers of society. Students should have freedom to organize themselves.
  5. The number of institutions of secondary learning should increase in accordance with public needs; the fee for these should be reduced. Local public institutions should have the right to participate in the formulation of the education curriculum.
  6. A universal, free, and obligatory system of education should be introduced in elementary schools. Local self-government should extend material aid to those who need it.
  7. Local self-government should organize institutions for the education of the adult population – elementary schools for the adult, as well as public libraries and public universities.
  8. Professional education should be developed.

Source: V. Ivanovich (ed.), Rossiiskiia partii, soiuzy i ligi, St. Petersburg 1906, pp. 14-18.

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