In Defence of October

Study the lessons of the Russian Revolution

About us 1917 Live

The Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.)

11) Report on the Question of Revising the Party Programme May 11 (April 28)[1]

Comrades, this is how the question of revising the Party Programme now stands. The first draft of proposed changes in the doctrinal part of our programme and in a number of basic points in its political part was submitted to the committee. The whole programme must be revised as being utterly obsolete—a fact that was pointed out in Party circles long before the war. It appears, however, that there is not the slightest hope for discussing the proposed changes of the programme as a whole. On the other hand, the committee has come to the unanimous conclusion that a revision of the programme is absolutely essential, and that in a number of questions it is possible and necessary to indicate the direction in which such revision should be made. We have therefore agreed on the following draft resolution which I am going to read to you now, making brief comments as I go along. We have decided not to put forward precisely formulated theses at the present time, but merely to indicate along what lines this revision should be carried out.

(Reads the resolution.)

“The Conference considers it necessary to revise the Party Programme along the following lines:

“1. Evaluating imperialism and the epoch of imperialist wars in connection with the approaching socialist revolution; fighting against the distortion of Marxism by the ‘defencists’, who have forgotten Marx’s slogan—‘The working men have no country’.”[2]

This is so clear that it requires no explanation. As a matter of fact our Party’s policy has advanced considerably and, practically speaking, has already taken the stand proposed in this formulation.

“2. Amending the theses and clauses dealing with the state; such amendment is to be in the nature of a demand for a democratic proletarian-peasant republic (i. e., a type of state functioning without police, without a standing army, and without a privileged bureaucracy), and not for a bourgeois parliamentary republic.”

Other formulations of this point had been proposed. One of them mentioned the experience of the Paris Commune and the experience of the period between the seventies and the eighties, but such a formulation is unsatisfactory and too general; another spoke about a republic of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies, but this formulation, too, was considered unsatisfactory by most of the comrades. A formulation, however, is needed; the point is not what an institution is called, but what its political character and structure is. By saying “proletarian-peasant republic”, we indicate its social content and political character.

“3. Eliminating or amending what is out of date in the political programme.”

Practically speaking, our general political activities in the Soviets have gone along these lines; therefore, there can hardly be room for doubt that the change in this particular point of the programme and the precise formulation of our estimate of the moment in which the revolution found our Party, is not likely to provoke any disagreements.

“4. Altering a number of points in the political minimum programme, so as to state more consistent democratic demands with greater precision.

“5. Completely changing the economic part of the minimum programme, which in very many places is out of date, and points relating to public education.”

The main thing here is that these points have become out of date; the trade union movement has outstripped them.

“6. Revising the agrarian programme in accordance with the adopted resolution on the agrarian question.

“7. Inserting a demand for nationalisation of a number of syndicates, etc., now ripe for such a step.”

A careful formulation has been chosen here, which can be narrowed or widened, depending upon what drafts will appear in print.

“8. Adding an analysis of the main trends in modern socialism.”

An addendum like this was made to the Communist Manifesto.

“The Conference instructs the Central Committee to work out, within two months, on the basis of the above suggestions, a draft for the Party Programme which is to be submitted for approval to the Party congress. The Conference calls upon all organisations and all Party members to consider drafts of the programme, to correct them, and to work out counter-drafts.”

It has been pointed out that it would be desirable to set up a scientific body and create a literature dealing with this subject, but we have neither the men nor the means for this. This is the resolution that should help in the speedy revision of our programme. This resolution will be forwarded abroad to enable our internationalist comrades to take part in revising the programme, which our Party has undertaken on the basis of the experience of the world war.

The new Party programme draft was completed after the October Revolution. The programme was adopted at the Eighth Congress of the R.C.P(B.) in March 1919.

A brief report published May 13 (April 30), 1917 in Pravda No. 45 Published according to the typewritten copy of the Minutes
First published in full in 1921 in N. Lenin (V. Ulyanov), Works, Volume XIV, Part 2  




The February Revolution
Strikes and protests erupt on women's day in Petrograd and develop into a mass movement involving hundreds of thousands of workers; within 5 days the workers win over the army and bring down the hated and seemingly omnipotent Tsarist Monarchy.
Lenin Returns
Lenin returns to Russia and presents his ‘April Theses’ denouncing the Bourgeois Provisional Government and calling for “All Power to the Soviets!”
The June Days
Following the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, the reformist leaders called a demonstration to show the strength of "democracy". 400,000 people attended, the vast majority carried banners with Bolshevik slogans.
The July Days
Spontaneous, armed demonstrations against the Provisional Government erupt in Petrograd. The workers and soldiers are suppressed by force, introducing a period of reaction and making the peaceful development of the revolution impossible.
The Kornilov Affair
Following the July days, the Bolsheviks were driven underground and the forces of reaction were emboldened. This process culminated in the reactionary forces coalescing around General Kornilov, who attempt to march on Petrograd and crush the revolutionary movement in its entirety.
The October Revolution
The Provisional Government is overthrown. State power passes to the Soviets on the morningm of 26th October, after the Bolsheviks’ Military Revolutionary Committee seize the city and the cabinet surrenders.
  • V. I. Lenin

    V. I. Lenin

    "The dominating trait of his character, the feature which constituted half his make-up, was his will..."
  • L. Trotsky

    L. Trotsky

    “Astounding speeches, fanfares of orders, the unceasing electrifier of a weakening army.”
  • G. Plekhanov

    G. Plekhanov

    "In the final analysis the brilliant aspects of Plekhanov’s character will endure forever."
  • G. O. Zinoviev

    G. O. Zinoviev

    "Zinoviev has won the reputation of being one of the most remarkable orators – a difficult feat."
  • Y. M. Sverdlov

    Y. M. Sverdlov

    “He did not die on the field of battle, but we are right to see him as a man who gave his life for the cause.”
  • V. Volodarsky

    V. Volodarsky

    “He was always to be seen in the front row, the on-the-spot leader. So, they killed him.”
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Reading Guides

  • The 1917 February Revolution

    The 1917 February Revolution

    The February Revolution saw a mass strike develop from below at a furious pace which posed the question of state power within a week of its inception. Workers in Petrograd took to the streets against intolerable bread shortages, the slaughter
  • Lenin Returns in April

    Lenin Returns in April

    This reading guide contains some of Lenin’s most important writings and speeches made in the April period, accompanied by works which provide further details of events at that stage of the Revolution.
  • The June Days 1917

    The June Days 1917

    This reading guide informs the May-June period of the Revolution with analysis, accounts of those who were involved and important speeches and writings of the time.
  • The July Days 1917

    The July Days 1917

    This selection of texts covers the background, events and consequences of the July Days. Next, we will turn our attention to one of those consequences – the Kornilov putsch in late August.
  • The Kornilov affair

    The Kornilov affair

    Kornilov’s failed coup brought the direct action of the masses into play again, and proved to them once and for all that they were the only force in society capable of transforming their own living conditions. For the first time,
  • The October Insurrection 1917

    The October Insurrection 1917

    The following series of articles provides in-depth analyses and first-hand accounts of the events immediately preceding, during and after the greatest event in human history: the October Revolution, in addition to reflections on its aftermath.
  • 1