What was our old program
Our current program was approved at the Party’s VIII Congress in late March 1919.
Until then, we lacked a well-defined and well-formulated program. We had only the old program that was drawn up at the Second Congress in 1903. At that time the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks formed a single party and therefore had a common program. Then the working class was just beginning to organize. Factories and offices were rare. The future of the working class was highly debated. The “Narodniki” 2 (the forerunners of the current Social Revolutionary party) argued that the working class in Russia had no chance of development, since the number of our factories and offices would not increase. Marxist Social Democrats (that is, the current Bolsheviks and Mensheviks) were, on the contrary, of the opinion that in Russia, as in all other countries, it would be once developed, the primary revolutionary element. History denied the opinion of the “Narodniki” and proved the Social Democrats right.
But at the time when the Social Democrats, in the Second Congress, elaborated their program (elaboration in which both Lenin and Plekhanov participated), the forces of the working class were then too narrow. So no one thought about the possibility of overthrowing the bourgeoisie at one blow. There was only a glimpse of the possibility of overthrowing tsarism, of conquering the freedom of organization of the workers and peasants, of obtaining the eight-hour day and cutting a little the claws of the landowners. But nobody thought yet of being able to establish a government of the working class and immediately expropriate the factories and offices of the bourgeoisie. Such was our old program of 1903.
Need to formulate a new program
That is, members of the Narodnaia Vólüa (popular will) party. (N. del T.)
From that time to the 1917 revolution, many years have passed, and conditions have changed markedly. The great industry in Russia has had an enormous development, and with it the working class. Already in the I905 revolution it manifested itself as a powerful element. When the second revolution came it was clearly seen that the revolution could not win without the victory of the working class: But now the working class could not be content with what in 1905 would have been enough, because it had become strong enough to have the claim to seize the factories, conquer power and suppress the capitalist class. The reason for this is that the internal conditions of Russia, since the formulation of the first program, had fundamentally changed. And more importantly, the external conditions had also undergone a profound change. In 1905 “peace and tranquility” reigned throughout Europe. On the contrary, in 1917 it was clear to every intelligent person that the world revolution should emerge from the bowels of world war. The Russian revolution of 1905 was followed only by a weak movement of the Austrian workers and convulsions in the backward countries of the East: in Persia, Turkey and China. Instead, the Russian revolution of 1917 has been followed, not only by the revolution in the East, but also in the West, where the working class has waged the struggle for the annihilation of capital. We see that the internal and external conditions are currently completely different from those of 1903, and therefore it would be absurd for the working class party to maintain the old program of 1903 in 1917-1919.
When the Mensheviks reproached us for the renegade of our old program, and therefore of the doctrine of Karl Marx, we replied that, according to Marx’s doctrine, the programs do not come from the brains, but are shaped by life. When life has changed profoundly, the program cannot stay the same either. In winter the skins are used. In summer only a madman would wear a fur. The same is true in politics. Karl Marx himself is the one who has taught us to take into account contingent historical conditions and to act in correspondence. This does not mean that we should change our convictions as a lady changes gloves. The primary objective of the working class is the realization of the communist social order. This is the constant and immutable objective of the working class. It is understood that, depending on the distance it is from this goal, its immediate claims will vary. During the autocratic regime the working class had to act in secret, since their party was persecuted as an association of criminals. Now the working class is in power, and its party is the ruling party. Only an abnormal person would claim that the 1903 program is still valid. The change in the internal conditions of Russian political life, apart from the change in the entire international situation, has led to the need for a change in program.
Importance of our program
Our (Moscow) program is the first program of a class match
worker in power. For this reason, our party had to make concrete in it all the experiences acquired by the working class in the administration and constitution of a new social building. This is important, not only for us Russian workers and peasants, but also for foreign comrades. Not only we learn with our successes and our failures, with our mistakes and our faults, but the entire international proletariat. That is why our program does not only contain what our party has the purpose of accomplishing, but also what they have already partially accomplished. Our program must be known in every detail to every member of the party. Well, only the party that has recognized the program can be a member, that is, the one that believes it is fair. But this is not possible if you do not know it. It is true that there are many people who, without ever having seen a program, insinuate themselves into the Communist Party to obtain some advantage and to occupy a position. We do not want these as harmful. Without knowing our program, no one can become a true communist. Every conscious poor worker and peasant must know the program of our party. Every foreign proletarian must study it to take advantage of the experiences of the Russian revolution.
Scientific nature of our program
We have already said that a program should not be the artificial product of a mind, but should be removed from life itself. Before Marx many defenders of the working class had drawn charming pictures of the future paradise, but none had wondered if it was achievable and what was the path that led to it. Marx followed a completely different method. It started from a scrupulous examination of the evil, unjust and barbaric order that until then ruled the world. Marx examined the capitalist social order with the objectivity and precision with which an ordinary watch or machine is examined. Suppose that by examining a watch we find that two wheels do not mesh well and that each new lap is increasingly embedded in each other. In this case we can predict that the wheels will stop and the whole clock will stop working. Marx did not examine a clock, but the capitalist system, he studied social life as it appears under the domination of capital. From this study he concluded that capital is digging its own grave, that this machine will be destroyed, precisely by the fatal uprising of the workers, who will transform the whole world according to their will. Marx recommended to all his disciples that they first study life in its real manifestations. Only in this way is it possible to formulate a true program. This is why it is natural that our program begins with an exposition of the dominance of capital.
Now in Russia the dominance of capital has collapsed. The forecasts of Carlos Marx are presented before our eyes. The old society is falling apart. From the heads of emperors and kings the crowns fall. In all countries the workers are preparing for the revolution and the establishment of the power of the Soviets. To understand how this has been achieved, it is necessary to know exactly how the capitalist order is constituted. Then we will see that it inevitably has to die. And when we have recognized that we cannot go back, that the victory of the proletariat is certain, we will continue with greater energy and security the fight for the new society of work.