Programme of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1905

In its cultural and social relations, contemporary Russia increasingly enters into closer and closer ties with the advanced countries of the civilised world, while at the same time it preserves a number of peculiarities that have been formulated by the course of its past history, its local conditions, and its international situation.

All the advanced countries of the civilised world, parallel to the growth of the population and its basic needs, experience the growth of man's power over nature, the improved means of utilising its natural forces, and the increase of creative power of human work in all the spheres of activity. This growth is an indispensable condition for social progress and for the struggle toward a balanced and harmonious development of human individuality.

But this growth of human control over nature takes place in contemporary society under a condition of bourgeois competition of uncoordinated economic units, of private control of the means of production, of transformation of the latter into capital, and of advance exploitation of the direct producers or their indirect subordination to capital. Parallel to the development of the foundations of contemporary society, society itself increasingly transforms itself into two classes: a class of exploited toilers who receive increasingly lower rewards for the wealth their work creates, and a class of exploiters who have a monopoly on the control of natural forces and the social means of production.

As long as in those narrow frames of bourgeois capitalist relations there develop-albeit one sided and incomplete-forms of collective labour and mass production, so long will the contemporary economic development reveal positive, creative aspects, because it prepares certain material elements for a higher socialist system of life and unites in a compact social force the industrial armies of hired workers.

However, since bourgeois capitalist forms tend to narrow, limit, and impede the development of collective forms of labour and socially productive forces, the contemporary economic development strengthens its negative, destructive aspects: the anarchy of commodity production and competition; sterile waste of its economic forces; crises which shatter the national economy to its foundation; the growth of exploitation; dependence and insecurity of the toiling masses; the corrupting power of money on all moral standards; the selfish struggle of all against all for existence and privileged position.

Mutual relations between the positive and negative aspects of contemporary economic development vary from one branch of industry to another and from one country to another. They are relatively good in more advanced branches of industry and in countries of classical capitalism; they become less and less good in other branches of industry, especially in agriculture, and in countries situated less advantageously in the international economic struggle.

But, regardless of those distinctions, the incompatibility and contradiction between the positive and the negative aspects of contemporary economic development represents a general and growing fact fraught with serious historical consequences.

With the growth of social division between the exploiters and the exploited, with the growth of contradictions between the productivity of labour and the inconsequential reward of workers for their products, and with the increase of the norms of their exploitation, there also grows dissatisfaction among the exploited with their conditions in contemporary society.

The exploiting classes are trying to perpetuate the basis of their existence exploitation through rent, profit on capital in all of its forms, and increased taxes of the toiling masses. By means of syndicates, cartels, and trusts they are trying to control, for their egoistic gains, the means of production as well as consumption. They are trying to appropriate for their class interest all the institutions of the contemporary state and to transform it completely into a weapon of their rule and impoverishment of the exploited. Finally, they are striving to subjugate spiritual and material literature, art, science, and public opinion in order to keep the toiling masses not only in economic but in intellectual dependence as well.

Not possessing any other resources, or having lost them already in the struggle, they are joining hands with the reactionary forces of the dead past, are resurrecting racial and religious animosity, are poisoning national consciousness with chauvinism or nationalism, and are entering into alliances with the remnants of monarchical and Church-clerical institutions.

The bourgeois system has gradually abandoned its former progressive content, has brought intellectual sterility to its ruling classes, has caused the alienation of the intellectual and moral flower of the nation, and has left it to suffer in the hostile camp of the oppressed and the exploited.

The exploited classes naturally are trying to protect themselves from the pressing burden, and in proportion to the growth of their consciousness they are uniting themselves in this struggle and are directing it against the very foundations of bourgeois exploitation. International by its nature, this movement is becoming increasingly a movement of the great majority in the interest of the great majority, a factor that represents the key to its victory.

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, organised 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 organisation of public work for public good.

The realisation of this programme 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.

The Socialist Revolutionary Party of Russia views its task as an organic, component part of a universal struggle of labour against the exploitation of human dignity, against all barriers that prevent its development into social forms, and conducts it in the spirit of general interests of that struggle in ways that are determined by concrete conditions of Russian reality.

The mutual co-operation between the patriarchal nobility-bureaucratic autocracy and new bourgeois exploitation intensifies the social problem in Russia. The development of capitalism reveals here, more than anywhere else, its dark aspects and, less than anywhere else, it balances the organised creative influence of the growth of public productive forces. The abnormally growing bureaucratic apparatus of the state, as a result of the emancipation of serfs and the development of the kulak system in all of its aspects and forms, increasingly paralyses the productive forces of the village. The tolling peasantry is forced to a large degree to seek help either in subsidiary enterprises or hired labour, and receives from all of its labour an earning that corresponds to the lowest wage earning of an industrial worker. This factor also limits and undermines the domestic market of industry, which in addition suffers from shortages of foreign markets. Surplus population and the capitalist surplus labour force progressively increase, which, because of the competition, lowers the living standards of the city proletariat. The labour movement is forced to develop in conditions of an autocratic regime based on the all-embracing police protection and suppression of individual and public initiative. The class of great industrialists and merchants, more reactionary than everywhere else, depends increasingly on the support of autocracy against the proletariat, and against the toiling masses of the village. In the interest of self-preservation the autocracy has intensified the oppression of the subjugated nationalities of Imperial Russia, has paralysed 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 intellig' entsia. 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 realise fully its programme, namely the expropriation of capitalist property and the reorganisation of production and of the entire social system on socialist foundations, it is essential that there be a complete victory of the working class, organised by the Socialist Revolutionary Party, and, in case of need, that there be established a temporary revolutionary dictatorship.

So long as the organised 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 organisation.

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:

The Socialist Revolutionary Party, in commencing its direct revolutionary struggle with autocracy, agitates for the calling of the Zemskii Sobor {National Assembly} freely elected by the people regardless of sex, social status, nationality, or religion, to liquidate the autocratic regime and to reform all present systems. The Party will support its programme of reform in the National Assembly and it will also try to realise it directly during the revolutionary period.

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

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