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The Mensheviks


On the Seizure of Power and Participation in a Provisional Government, April 1905

The decisive victory of the revolution over Tsarism may be marked either by the establishment of a provisional government - issuing from the victorious popular uprising - or by the revolutionary initiative of one or another representative institution which will decide, under the direct revolutionary pressure of the people, to organise a national constituent assembly.

In either case, such a victory will inaugurate a new phase in the revolutionary epoch. . . .

Social democracy must strive to retain for itself, throughout the entire (bourgeois) revolution, a position which would best afford it the opportunity of furthering the revolution, which would not bind its hands in the struggle against the inconsistent and self-seeking policies of the bourgeois parties, and which would prevent it from losing its identity in bourgeois democracy.

Therefore, social democracy should not set itself the goal of seizing or sharing power in the provisional government but must remain the party of the extreme revolutionary opposition. . . . In only one case should social democracy take the initiative and direct its efforts towards seizing power and holding it as long as possible - and that is if the revolution should spread to the advanced countries of western Europe where conditions for the realisation of socialism have already attained a certain degree of maturity. In such a case, the limited historical scope of the Russian revolution may be considerably broadened and it may become possible to set out on the path of socialist reforms.

By basing its tactics on the expectation that throughout the entire revolutionary period the Social Democratic Party will maintain a position of extreme revolutionary opposition to all the governments which may succeed one another during the course of the revolution, social democracy can best prepare itself for wielding governmental power if it should fall into its hands.

Source: General ed. R.H. McNeal,Resolutions and Decisions of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, , vol. 1: The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, 1898-October 1917(ed. R.C. Elwood.)Toronto, 1974, pp. 72-3.

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