Dictionary of Revolutionary Marxism

—   Ru - Rz   —

Russian currency unit (akin to “dollar” or “euro”) which was also used in the former Soviet Union.
        See also:

class that dominates a particular society and through its political party or parties (and other institutions) controls the state, and especially the armed forces of the state. Normally (that is, except briefly at times of revolutionary transition) the class which rules is the economically dominant class, the one which owns and controls the means of production.
        It is very important for the rulers to convince the other classes either that the actual ruling class has the sole right to rule (as supposedly specified by the gods, perhaps!), or else that (contrary to the real situation) they are not the exclusive rulers of the society. In capitalist society the ruling class is the capitalist class, the bourgeoisie. And it is especially important for them to try to hide their class rule from the vastly larger working class. Multi-party bourgeois democracy has been created for this purpose. Through their control of all the major parties and virtually all of the media and the major social institutions (churches, schools, etc.), the capitalists remain the ruling class. But they are for long periods able to fool the working class and the poor into thinking that “there is no ruling class”, and that everyone has an equal say in how society is run.
        See also: HIGH AND MIGHTY


The word ‘rupture’ means the relatively sudden and complete breaking or bursting of something, with the implication that there is little or no continuity, before and afterwards, in the thing which ruptures—at least in its most essential aspects. A ruptured heart no longer beats! Thus it seems really weird and completely incorrect to most Marxist-Leninist-Maoists that the development of MLM is itself sometimes said to be the result of two major “ruptures”, first, supposedly a rupture by Lenin of the Marxism of Marx and Engels, and second, supposedly the rupture by Mao of Marxism-Leninism.
        This is not at all what Lenin and Mao considered that they had done! On the contrary Lenin in his adult years always insisted that he was a Marxist and was upholding genuine Marxism, and Mao always insisted that he was a Marxist-Leninist and was upholding genuine Marxism-Leninism. So what is going on here? Why do some people today try to say that they know better than Lenin and Mao themselves what they were really up to?
        It is certainly true that as a living science revolutionary Marxism (or MLM) has developed over time. It is even true that from time to time it has undergone qualitative leaps in its development. One such qualitative leap occurred when Marx and Engels summed up the experience of the
Paris Commune and added the necessity of establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat to the programme of Marxism. This did not at all mean that they “ruptured”, broke with or abandoned the other principles and goals described in the Communist Manifesto! On the contrary, it meant that they upheld the understanding, perspective and programme of the Communist Manifesto but added something more to it.
        Several new qualitative leaps in Marxism occurred in the first few decades of the 20th century. The first was the clarification of, and re-emphasis on, the revolutionary character of Marxism that came from the struggle against the opportunism and revisionism within most of the parties of the Second International. This struggle was led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, but also by other great revolutionaries such as Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebnecht and Clara Zetkin. Note that this qualitative leap in Marxism did involve a rupture, but it was a rupture with revisionism and economism and was basically just a return to and renewal of the revolutionary Marxism of Marx and Engels which the revisionists had rejected and abandoned.
        A second qualitative leap in revolutionary Marxism in that period was the development of the strategy and methods of revolutionary work appropriate in Russia and its empire. This was mostly accomplished by Lenin, and did include an increased emphasis on the role of a revolutionary political party, and on the importance of that party consisting of trained, professional revolutionaries and working according to the principles of democratic centralism. Although this was certainly a development of revolutionary Marxism, it was by no means a “rupture” or “break” with it! No previous principles of revolutionary Marxism were abandoned.
        A third qualitative leap in Marxism at around that time occurred with the development of the theory of capitalist-imperialism by Lenin (based in part on the work of Hobson and Hilferding) and its accompanying new focus on revolutionary struggle in imperialist colonies. Again, this in no way involved any “rupture” with previous revolutionary Marxism, but only an extension and further development of it.
        These last three qualitative leaps in Marxism were all led by Lenin and are appropriately associated with his name. (See: LENINISM.) And these developments of Marxism, along with Lenin’s successful leadership of the Bolshevik Revolution and the regeneration of the entire world revolutionary movement, have been of such importance that we renamed our science as Marxism-Leninism. But this was not because what Marx and Engels wrote and did was mostly outmoded or surpassed! It was because of the renewal of the revolutionary essence of their ideas, along with some extensions and developments of their theory appropriate to the changed economic and political situation in the world.
        Mao is largely responsible for two further qualitative leaps in the development of revolutionary Marxism. The first development was the creation of a brand new strategy for revolution in largely peasant colonies and semi-colonies such as China was in the 1930s and 1940s. This was the strategy of protracted people’s war (PPW), a central aspect of which was the countryside surrounding the cities. Again, this in no way “ruptured”, destroyed or replaced the vast bulk of revolutionary Marxism as it existed before Mao. Rather, it added to that great treasury of revolutionary principles and knowledge, and provided an additional means of making proletarian revolution in largely rural peasant countries in the imperialist era.
        The second great qualitative leap in revolutionary Marxism that is due primarily to Mao is the theory and practice of continuing the revolution under socialism (as exemplified in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution). Anyone with much knowledge of the GPCR will recognize that to a very large degree this involved defeating and overthrowing the capitalist-roaders and returning to and re-emphasizing the importance of maintaining genuine proletarian rule, i.e. the dictatorship of the proletariat, that Marx, Engels and Lenin had so strongly insisted on long before Mao. So once again this qualitative leap was more of a rupture with revisionist conceptions and forms of phony “socialism” and definitely not a “rupture” with genuine Marxism-Leninism.
        Contrary to the claim of a series of “ruptures”, the historical development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism has been exactly that—a series of developments, clarifications, extensions, improvements, and reaffirmations of its original revolutionary essence! Sometimes there have indeed been qualitative leaps, but never has there been anything that could be properly considered a “rupture” with the past—except when that past involved intrusions of bourgeois ideology into what was for a time being called “Marxism”. It is philosophically very wrong to consider all qualitative leaps as being the same thing as “ruptures”.
        So where did this idea that Marxism has developed through a series of “ruptures” and abandonments of past thinking and practice come from in the first place? Its actual origin is in bourgeois French philosophy! No kidding! We can trace it back first of all to the grandiose notion of the bourgeois philosopher Gaston Bachelard that science develops through a series of “epistemological ruptures”. This idea was then latched onto by Louis Althusser, who started mis-applying it to Marxism, first with his erroneous claim that there was an “epistemological rupture” (or break) between the Marx of the 1840s and the later Marx. Later, other French “radical” ideologists, who for a time considered themselves to be “Maoists” (but who never were), such as Alain Badiou and Sylvain Lazarus, adopted this same exaggerated and twisted terminology. And Althusser, Badiou, et al., have in recent years been all the rage in the academic “Marxist” milieu.
        That is how this totally inappropriate term ‘ruptures’ has come to be applied to the development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in academic circles. But there is more. Academic “Marxists” very much like the idea that “more modern” versions of what they call Marxism have broken with certain basic ideas of Marx, Lenin (and Mao!) which they personally don’t like. Such as the need for a disciplined revolutionary party based on democratic centralism, or the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat, or even just the need for violent revolution. These ideas make academic “Marxists” (who after all are often from a petty-bourgeois background) very uncomfortable, and they themselves want to make a profound rupture with them. And that is really why the concept of the development of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as a series of “ruptures” with the past is welcome in that milieu. It is well to remember that academic “Marxists” or “leftists” of any kind have never made a revolution and never will. Those who are serious about making revolution need to break away from the insidious anti-Marxist influences which they may have experienced in college, including any infatuation with French bourgeois philosophy mascarading as Marxism, and academic “Marxism” in general. —S.H.


“Can rural America be saved?
        “There are 60 million people, almost one in five Americans, living on farms, in hamlets and in small towns across the landscape. For the last quarter century the story of these places has been one of relentless economic decline.
        “This is, of course, not news to the people who live in rural and small-town America, who have been fighting for years to reverse this decline....
        “Rural America is getting old. The median age is 43, seven years older than that of city dwellers. Its productivity, defined as output per worker, is lower than urban America’s. Its families have lower incomes. And its share of the population is shrinking: The United States has grown by 75 million people since 1990, but this has mostly occurred in cities and suburbs. Rural areas have lost some three million people. Since the 1990s, problems such as crime and opiod abuse, once associated with urban areas, are increasingly rural phenomena.
        “Rural communities once captured a greater share of the nation’s prosperity. During the economic recovery of 1992 to 1996, 135,000 new businesses were started in small counties, a third of the nation’s total. Employment in small counties shot up by 2.5 million, or 10 percent, twice the pace experienced in counties with million-plus populations.
        “These days, economic growth bypasses rural economies. In the first four years of the recovery after the 2008 recession, counties with fewer than 100,000 people lost 17,500 businesses, according to the Economic Innovation Group. By contrast, counties with more than one million residents added, altogether, 99,000 firms....
        “One thing seems clear to me: Nobody—not experts or policymakers or people in these communities—seems to know quite how to pick rural America up.
        “States, municipalities and the federal government have spent billions to draw jobs and prosperity to stagnant rural areas. But they haven’t yet figured out how to hitch this vast segment of the country to the tech-heavy economy that is flourishing in America’s cities.
        [Even in rural counties there does exist some manufacturing.] “But factory jobs can no longer keep small-town America afloat. Even after a robust eight-year growth spell [for the bourgeoisie! —Ed.], there are fewer than 13 million workers in manufacturing across the entire economy. Robots and workers in China put together most of the manufactured goods that Americans buy. The high-tech industries powering the economy today don’t need cheap labor. They need highly educated workers. [Actually, they need highly educated but also cheap workers! —Ed.] They find those most easily in big cities, not in small towns. [And among foreign-educated tech people who immigrate to those big cities. —Ed.] ...
        “This is the inescapable reality of agglomeration, one of the most powerful forces shaping the American economy over the last three decades. Innovative companies choose to locate where other successful, innovative companies are. That’s where they can find lots of highly skilled workers. The more densely packed these pools of talent are, the more workers can learn from one another and the more productive they become. This dynamic feeds on itself, drawing more high-tech firms and highly skilled workers to where they already are....
        “[A recent study focuses] on the alarming rate of joblessness in the region roughly between the Mississippi River and the states on the Atlantic coast, where rural communities are doing particularly poorly.
        “...[T]he United States is still left with 50 to 55 million people living in rural communities that no longer have much to offer them economically.” —Eduardo Porter, “Abandoned America: The hard truths of trying to bring jobs back to small towns”, New York Times, Dec. 16, 2018.
         [The article suggests that those from rural areas seeking jobs should therefore move to the cities, especially the tech centers. However, this requires that they first acquire a good technical education (which is now far more likely to be obtained in foreign countries) and also goes up against the absurdly unaffordable housing prices in the tech centers. In other words, the bourgeoisie really has no answer for the problems of rural America, any more than they do for the problems of the working class in general. —Ed.]

        See also:

1. [In China before collectivization in the 1950s:]
Peasants, or farm workers, who themselves had no land or farm animals or farm implements, and who were thus forced to sell their labor power to landlords or rich peasants in order to survive.
2. Farm workers in a similar situation elsewhere.
        See also: SEMI-PROLETARIAN,   FARM WORKERS,   CHINA—Class Analysis Before 1949

RUSSELL, Bertrand   (1872-1970)
One of the best known bourgeois philosophers of the 20th century, and one of the most overrated. He was constantly changing his mind about almost every topic, philosophical and political, so it is hard to summarize his “ideas”. For example, at one time during the late 1940s he advocated an unprovoked nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, and a few years later championed the “better red than dead” anti-nuclear movement. For more about his philosophical flightiness, see the
philosophical doggerel page on him. (See also: NEUTRAL MONISM)
        Russell had some considerable influence on the left in China in the period right after World War I. He visited China in 1920 and gave lectures across the country which were well-received because of his opposition to the foreign capitalist domination of China. In the book he wrote after his trip, he stated:

“In the long run, the Chinese cannot escape economic domination by foreign Powers unless China becomes military or the foreign Powers become Socialistic, because the capitalist system involves in its very essence a predatory relation of the strong towards the weak, internationally as well as nationally. A strong military China would be a disaster; therefore Socialism in Europe and America affords the only ultimate solution.” —Bertrand Russell, The Problem of China (1922), p. 64.

Despite the acknowledgement here of imperialism as an aspect of modern capitalism, even this comment betrayed the paternalistic perspective of the British aristocracy (of which Russell was a part), in that it claimed that China could not (or should not) free itself from foreign imperialism and thus depended on positive changes in the West for its own salvation. Morever, while Russell favored “socialism”, he opposed Marxism and violent revolution, and the form of socialism he promoted was really only “guild socialism” and/or what came to be called social democracy. Thus Marxists in China (as well as elsewhere) had to struggle against Russell’s mostly negative influence in that regard.
        However, in his very old age, during the Vietnam War period, Russell did play a very positive political role, as this letter from him to Chou En-lai [Zhou Enlai], from Nov. 30, 1965 shows:

Dear Premier Chou,
         I am grateful to you for your letter of October 22. As you know, I am very deeply concerned to make known the nature of the war at present being waged by the United States against the people of Viet Nam. American policy is progressing more and more towards economic and political control, usually obtained by the most atrocious means, of countries which she considers necessary for her own economic well-being.
         We have sought, by all the means at our disposal, to publicize the many atrocities practised by the United States in the name of “liberation.” I am heartened by the support which the people of China are giving to the Vietnamese in their hard-fought struggle for liberation and independence. It is also clear that the peoples of Latin America, Asia and Africa must similarly resist the imposition of such cruelty.
         For my part I wholeheartedly support their struggle and share your view that resistance to the efforts of the United States to obtain world domination is central to the creation of a lasting world peace.
         This struggle is producing a growing movement in the United States against the cruel and aggressive policies of United States imperialism. It is arousing the peoples of the world to a new consciousness, which is the greatest hope for a change in the United States, based on the defeat and elimination of such policies by the people of America themselves.
         Please accept my most sincere congratulations to the people and Government of China for their unique and remarkable accomplishments during the last 16 years.
         You have my unswerving support for any actions leading to the easing of the threat of world domination, and, thereby, to our common pursuit of world peace.
         With warm regards,
         Yours sincerely,
         Bertrand Russell
         [From Peking Review, vol. VIII, #50, Dec. 10, 1965.]

“Different classes have different ways of justifying their actions. Which class does not have adequate justification? Doesn’t Russell? He recently sent me a pamphlet which should be translated and read. Russell is now a bit better politically. He is anti-revisionist and anti-American and he supports Vietnam. This idealist has acquired a little materialism. I am talking about his actions.” —Mao, “Speech at Hangchow” (Dec. 21, 1965), SW 9:228.

“At the end of 1920, Zhang Dongsun and Liang Qichao launched a debate about socialism. Although they stated that capitalism was bound to fall and socialism was sure to rise, they emphasized that since China was industrially backward, there was no ground for the founding of a political party representing the laboring classes and that the solution was for the gentry and mercantile class to vitalize industry and commerce and develop capitalism. They called for ‘a rectified attitude toward capitalists’ in order to ‘bring about sound, gradual development under the present economic system.’ They expressed their faith in the guild socialism advocated by Bertrand Russell, a British scholar, — bourgeois reformism under the guise of socialism.” —A Concise History of the Communist Party of China, by the Party History Center of the CPC Central Committee, Hu Sheng (chief editor), (Beijing: FLP, 1994), p. 28. [This volume was published by the revisionist capitalist-roaders who seized the party and country after Mao’s death, but with regard to the situation and influences in China around 1920 it seems correct. —Ed.]

“In his lecture at Changsha, Russell .... took a position in favour of communism but against the dictatorship of the workers and peasants. He said that one should employ the method of education to change the consciousness of the propertied classes, and that in this way it would not be necessary to limit freedom or to have recourse to war and bloody revolution.... My objections to Russell’s view point can be stated in a few words: ‘This is all very well as a theory, but it is unfeasible in practice’ .... Education requires money, people and instruments. In today’s world money is entirely in the hands of the capitalists. Those who have charge of education are all either capitalists or wives of capitalists. In today’s world the schools and the press, the two most important instruments of education are entirely under capitalist control. In short, education in today’s world is capitalist education. If we teach capitalism to children, these children, when they grow up will in turn teach capitalism to a second generation of children. Education thus remains in the hands of the capitalists.”
         —Mao, from a very early letter to Ts’ai Ho-sen (Nov. 1920), before the Communist Party of China was even formed. In “Communism and Dictatorship” in SW volume VI, online at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-6/mswv6_06.htm   [In this letter Mao went on to further elaborate on this theme of why the ruling capitalists will themselves never accept the idea of communism, and why capitalism cannot be overthrown through mere educational efforts. —Ed.]

RUSSELL, Maud   (1893-1989)
A progressive American feminist who eventually became a dedicated Marxist revolutionary and a supporter of Mao Zedong and the Chinese revolution. She first went to China in 1917 as part of a YWCA project to do “Woman’s Work for Women”. Her original intention was (as one commentator put it) “to bring the benefits of Christianity and Western civilization to a new generation of Chinese women struggling to find their own path to modernity in the wake of the 1911 Republican Revolution. Instead, over the next twenty-six years, Russell was herself transformed—from Christian liberal reformer to committed Marxist revolutionary.”
        From 1952 until her death at the age of 96 she published a political journal from New York City (or actually, more like a long series of pamphlets) under the name Far East Reporter. (Many of these pamphlets are now being posted at
https://www.bannedthought.net/Magazines/FER/index.htm.) Unlike some American intellectuals who once developed a deep sympathy for China and its revolution, she was not fooled when China went revisionist after Mao’s death, and then became a capitalist country. Instead she firmly denounced the return to capitalism.
        A sympathetic biography by a non-Marxist author, Karen Garner, is available: Maud Russell and the Chinese Revolution (Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 2003).

RUSSIA — Class Analysis at the Time of the Revolution
[To be added...]

The official name of the Bolshevik Party from 1918 until 1925.
        See also below.


“The Ninth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.), held in Moscow from September 22 to September 25, 1920, was attended by 241 delegates (116 with the right to vote and 125 with voice but no vote). Among the items on the agenda were: the political and organizational reports of the Central Committee; the immediate tasks of Party development; a report of the commission in charge of the Party history studies, and a report on the Second Congress of the Communist International. The Conference also heard a report from the Polish Communists’ delegate. Lenin opened the Conference, delivered the Central Committe’s political report, and took the floor during the debate on the immediate tasks of Party development. The political report dealt mainly with the two subjects—the question of war and peace with Poland, and the organization of Wrangel’s defeat. The Conference passed a unanimous resolution on the conditions of peace with Poland, and approved the statement by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on the specific peace terms drawn up on Lenin’s instructions and edited by Lenin. The resolution on ‘The Immediate Tasks of Party Development’ provided for practical measures to extend inner-Party democracy, strengthen Party unity and discipline, combat red tape in government and economic bodies and improve the communist training of young Party members. The Conference deemed it necessary to set up a Control Commission, to be elected at Party congresses, and Party commisssions under gubernia Party committees, to be elected at gubernia Party conferences. The Conference gave a rebuff to the ‘Democratic Centralism’ group, who denied Party discipline and the Party’s guiding role in the Soviets and the trade unions.” —Note 91, LCW 31.

RUSSIAN IMPERIALISM   (Since the Collapse of the Soviet Union)
Russia dominated the
state-capitalist Soviet Union, the regime which arose when socialism was overthrown in the mid-1950s. And in effect the U.S.S.R. itself included many (though by no means all) of the areas under Russian imperialist control in that era. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire in 1991, and the transformation of Russia and the rest of the pieces mostly into Western-style monopoly capitalism (instead of almost exclusively state capitalism during the Soviet era), the Russian bourgeoisie has more and more determinedly been attempting to reassert its imperialist control over that old social-imperialist empire. They still view countries which are now nominally completely independent, such as Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia, as regions properly under their thumb. This has already led to some small Russian imperialist wars in Georgia and Ukraine.
        The U.S.-led Western imperialist bloc has of course been trying to pry away the comprador states still in the Russian imperialist sphere. They have been successful in most of Eastern Europe (including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary), and even in parts of the former Soviet Union itself—such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and in (most of) Ukraine. This has prompted the Russian imperialist regime (led by Vladimir Putin) to seize Crimea and to wage a proxy independence war in the eastern parts of Ukraine where the Russian language is widely spoken. (When all of Ukraine was under their economic and political control, they saw no need to do either of these things.)
        Despite such obvious imperialist political and military activity by the current Russian ruling class, there is still reluctance in some quarters to view Russia as an imperialist country at all! One of the reasons for this is the old feeling among many revisionists, or those leaning that way, that only the United States is a true imperialist power. All other countries, even advanced capitalist countries, are viewed as being at least potential victims and opponents U.S. imperialism, and if the U.S. (rather than the imperialist system in general) is opposed by anybody it can only be a good thing. This then often leads to active support for those opponents of U.S. imperialism, regardless of who they are and what they do to other people. And it often leads to a denial or downplaying of the crimes of these opponents of the U.S. against their own people. It can lead to the outrageous support of murderous tyrannical regimes such as that of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, or Bashar al-Assad in Syria. And it sometimes leads to outright support for other imperialist powers, such as Russia or China, and even to the denial that these really are imperialist countries too, which are oppressing and exploiting their own people as well as others internationally. When there are more than one set of thugs in the world we cannot let our anger at one set of thugs lead us to side with or promote a different set of thugs.
        It is all well and good to argue, as we have done above, that since the Russian-dominated U.S.S.R. was already an imperialist country (though it still called itself “socialist”), so must be Russia today after the fall of the Soviet Union and the taking down of the phony socialist signboard. That is in fact a valid argument in this imperialist era when the only sort of advanced capitalism possible is of necessity the imperialist form.
        Nevertheless, it is also worthwhile to look into the specifics of contemporary Russia in light of the MLM conception of imperialism and also in light of Lenin’s 1916 definition of it. One recent paper by the Mass Proletariat organization in the U.S. summarized the situation well. The paper points out that the concentration of capital (or degree of monopoly) in Russia today exceeds that of any of the imperialist powers that Lenin investigated in his time. “Based on the official statistics of the Russian state, the top 600 firms in Russia account for over 70% of Russian GDP.” Similarly, the paper discusses the great importance of the large banks and financial institutions in Russia today and how banking capital has so deeply merged with industrial capital. In another section it talks about the extensive and growing export of capital by Russia, and notes that “Russia currently has about $1.2 trillion invested abroad” with a net international balance of invested assets of “over $200 billion”. And the paper also talks about how these economic characteristics of imperialism have led Russia into political and military interventions in other countries, most notably in support of their comprador regime in Syria, as well as the intensifying global struggle Russia is engaged in with other imperialist powers, most especially the United States. The paper sums this all up as follows:
        “So, what then is the economic essence of imperialism? It is the concentration of capital in monopolies, the fusion of banking and industrial capital into finance capital, the export of capital abroad, and the struggle between imperialist powers to repartitition the world markets (which eventually and inevitably leads to war between imperialist powers). Russia exhibits all of these features, and is therefore a capitalist-imperialist country.” [“Russia is an Imperialist Country”, by Mass Proletariat, June 30, 2017, online at: http://www.massproletariat.info/writings/russia_is_an_imperialist_country.html]

“Some [geographical labels] reek of colonialism (‘Black Africa’) or lingering imperialism (‘the near abroad’, Russians’ term for the former Soviet empire).” —“A menagerie of monikers”, The Economist, Jan. 9, 2010, p. 16.

RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS   (Since the Collapse of the Soviet Union)
The top Russian billionaire owners of a great part of the Russian economy, who have arisen from the rubble of the collapsed state-capitalist Soviet Union. Many of these oligarchic businessmen were originally little more than gangsters. But gangsters running a capitalist-imperialist state soon become transformed into the “respectable” establishment ruling class, no different than any bourgeois ruling class in any other country. “Behind every great fortune there is a great crime.” (Paraphrase of a comment by Balzac.)

“[U.S. Senator] Sam Nunn, on the occasion of his visit to Moscow immediately after the August coup [in 1991, attempted by the Old Guard against Gorbachev] had been invited by his friend Andrei Kokoshin to meet with what Kokoshin called the ‘chambers of commerce’ of the various new republics [which had been once part of the Soviet Union]. According to Nunn, Kokoshin drove him, ‘in his little tiny car,’ to a dacha ‘way back in the woods’ on the outskirts of Moscow: ‘I looked out and all these limousines are pulled up outside. So I go in there and it looked like something out of Damon Runyon. I mean cigar smoke everywhere, whiskey bottles everywhere, long-legged women everywhere, and these guys where all in there negotiating. It was the people who were conducting private enterprise and illegal activities all over the Soviet Union—technically illegal. Illicit and illegal. This was the beginnings of the business community in Moscow. The people who knew about business were the people who had been doing it, and all of a sudden they could do it legally. We spent about two hours out there. They wanted to hear from me, but we mainly listened to them. It was an uneasy meeting, because all these guys had armed security around them.’ I asked Nunn what they told him. ‘That they were going to do business,’ he said. ‘The shackles were off. They said, “We’re going to be unbridled, we’re going to do business.” This was, in effect, the Mob. Kokoshin realized it as the meeting went along. We were both ready to get the heck out of there.’” —Richard Rhodes, Twilight of the Bombs (2010), p. 113.


[Text to be added.]

The first bourgeois democratic revolution in Russia, which was a powerful mass uprising but which ultimately failed. The background to the uprising was the growth of a very discontented working class and the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese war which broke out in 1904. Class contradictions were greatly intensified, and there was more discontent with the Tsarist regime than ever. The demonstrations by the workers in St. Petersburg on January 9, 1905 were met with a bloody suppression by Tsarist troops. But by the fall of that year the revolutionary storm broke out throughout the whole country. Armed uprisings occurred in Moscow and many other cities in December. The Tsar’s forces managed to regain control and suppress the revolution. But Lenin later aptly called the 1905 Revolution the “dress rehearsal” for the Russian Revolutions of 1917.
        See also:

Lenin: Lecture on the 1905 Revolution:
        “This lecture was delivered by Lenin to an audience of young workers at the People’s House, Zurich, Switzerland, in January, 1917. In it he briefly recounts the history of the revolutionary development in Russia from 1905-07.
        “He stresses the role of the mass political strike in the 1905 revolution—it was marked by the greatest strike movement ever known, in which strikes beginning on economic issues turned into political strikes against the Tsarist Government—and the formation of Soviets in the course of the mass struggle, which in some cities deposed the local authorities for a period and themselves functioned as organs of workers’ power.
        “He goes on to point out the world significance of the 1905 Revolution as arousing a movement throughout the whole of Asia.”
         —Maurice Cornforth, ed., Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics (1953), p. 62. [Lenin’s lecture is in LCW 23:236-253, and is available online at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/jan/09.htm]

The umbrella Marxist socialist party in Russia which eventually included the Bolsheviks, the Mensheviks, the Bund and other sections, all of which actually operated as independent political parties much of the time. After the Bolshevik Revolution (in November 1917), the Bolsheviks soon came to completely dominate the RSDLP (at least within Russia), and the name of the Party was later changed to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. [More to be added... ]
        See also sub-topics below, and:


The First Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held illegally in Minsk in 1898 (March 1-3 [13-15 on the western calendar]). The question of calling a congress was raised by Lenin in 1896 when he was in prison in St. Petersburg. The arrest and exile of Lenin and other leaders of the St. Petersburg League of Struggle prevented the convening of the Congress. Preparations for it were continued by members of the Kiev Social-Democratic organization who had escaped arrest. The Congress was attended by nine delegates from six organizations—one each from the St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev and Ekaterinoslav Leagues of Struggle, two from the Kiev Rabochaya Gazeta group and three from the Bund.
        “The Congress decided to merge the local Leagues of Struggle and the Bund into a single Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party and elected a Central Committee. Rabochaya Gazeta was recognized as the Central Organ of the Party. It was announced that the Union of Russian Social-Democrats would represent the Party abroad. The Manifesto of the R.S.D.L.P., published by the Congress, declared the Party’s main task to be the struggle for political liberty against absolutism, connecting that struggle with the further struggle against capitalism and the bourgeoisie.
        “By founding the R.S.D.L.P. the First Congress marked a step forward in mustering the proletariat around revolutionary Social-Democracy. It did not, however, create a Party that was a united whole and did not elaborate the programme and rules of the Party. The Central Committee elected at the Congress was arrested shortly after. Confusion and wavering increased in the local Social-Democratic organizations and the creation of a unifed Marxist party still remained the chief task for the Russian Social-Democrats.” —Note 75, Lenin: SW I (1967). [For the reasons mentioned in this last paragraph, the true founding of the R.S.D.L.P. is generally considered to be its Second Party Congress.]


The Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held between July 17 (30) and August 10 (23), 1903. It began in Brussels and then moved to London. Preparations for the Congress were made by Lenin’s Iskra. The delegates to the Congress represented different trends—they were not only supporters of Iskra, but also its opponents, the open opportunists, and unstable, wavering elements. The main items on the agenda were: the approval of the programme and rules of the R.S.D.L.P. and the election of leading Party centers. Lenin carried on a determined struggle against the opportunists at the Congress. A revolutionary programme was adopted which put forward the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat as the main task and the rules drawn up by Lenin (with the exception of the first clause for which Martov’s formulation, reflecting the opportunism of the anti-Iskra group on organizational questions was adopted). It was at this congress that the split took place between the revolutionary section of the R.S.D.L.P. (the Bolsheviks) and the opportunist section (the Mensheviks). Bolsheviks, supporters of Iskra, were elected to the Party centers. The Congress consolidated the victory of Marxism over Economism, over open opportunism, and laid the foundations of a revolutionary Marxist party of the working class in Russia—the Communist Party—and was thus a turning-point in the international working-class movement.” —Note 166, Lenin: SW I (1967).


The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in London between April 12 and April 27 (April 25-May 10), 1905; it was attended by twenty-four delegates with the right to vote and fourteen with voice but no vote. This was the first Bolshevik Congress.
         “The agenda, drawn up by Lenin and approved by the Congress, contained the following items: I. Report of the Organizing Committee; II. Questions of tactics; III. Organizational questions; IV. Attitude to other parties and trends; V. Internal questions of Party life; VI. Reports by delegates; VII. Elections.
         “Throughout the Congress the proceedings were under Lenin’s guidance. He drafted the main resolutions adopted by the Congress, he delivered the reports on the armed uprising, on the participation of Social-Democrats in a provisional revolutionary government, on the attitude to the peasant movement, on the Party Rules and a number of other questions. The minutes of the Congress record over a hundred reports, speeches and proposals by Lenin.
        “The Congress defined the tactical line of the Bolsheviks that counted on the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution and its development into a socialist revolution. The Congress resolutions indicated the tasks of the proletariat as leader of the revolution and the Party’s strategical plan in the bourgeois-democratic revolution—the proletariat in alliance with the peasantry as a whole and, with the liberal bourgeoisie isolated, should pursue the struggle for the victory of the revolution.
        “The Congress made changes in the Party Rules: (a) Clause 1 of the Rules was adopted as formulated by Lenin; (b) the rights of the Central Committee and its relations with local committees were defined in detail; and (c) a single leading Party body, the Central Committee, was set up in place of the former two centers—the Central Committee and the Central Organ.” —Note 208, Lenin: SW I (1967).


The Fourth (Unity) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. took place in Stockholm from April 10 to 25 (April 23 to May 8), 1906.
        “The Congress was attended by 112 delegates with the right to vote, who represented 57 local Party organizations, and 22 delegates with voice by no vote. Other participants were delegates from various national Social-Democratic parties: three each from the Social-Democrats of Poland and Lithuania, the Bund and the Latvian Social-Democratic Labor Party, one each from the Ukrainian Social-Democratic Labor Party and the Finnish Labor Party, and also a representative of the Bulgarian Social-Democratic Labor Party. The main items on the Congress agenda were the agrarian question, an appraisal of the current situation and the class tasks of the proletariat, the attitude to the Duma, and organizational matters. There was a bitter controversy between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks over every item. Lenin made reports and speeches on the agrarian question, the current situation, the tactics in the Duma elections, the armed uprising, and other questions.
        “The preponderance of Mensheviks at the Congress, while slight, determined the character of its decisions—the Congress adopted Menshevik resolutions on a number of questions (the agrarian programme, the attitude to the Duma, etc.). The Congress approved the first clause of the Rules—concerning Party membership—in the wording proposed by Lenin. It admitted the Social-Democratic organizations of Poland and Lithuania and the Latvian Social-Democratic Labor Party into the R.S.D.L.P., and predetermined the admission of the Bund.
        “The Congress elected a Central Committee of three Bolsheviks and seven Mensheviks, and a Menshevik editorial board of the Central Organ.
         “Lenin analyzed the work of the Congress in his pamphlet Report on the Unity Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. [LCW 10:317-82.]” —Note 251, Lenin: SW I (1967).


The Fifth (London) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in London from from April 30 to May 19 (May 13 to June 1), 1907. The Congress was attended by 336 delgates (including those with the right to vote and those with voice only); they were: Bolsheviks—105, Mensheviks—97, Bundists—57, Polish Social-Democrats—44, Lettish Social-Democrats—29, non-factionalists—4. The Bolsheviks, supported by the Poles and Letts, had a sound majority. Lenin, Dubrovinsky, Shahumyan, Voroshilov and Yaroslavsky were among the delegates.
         “The Congress discussed: (1) The report of the Central Committee; (2) The report of the Duma group and its organization; (3) The attitude towards bourgeois parties; (4) The State Duma; (5) The ‘labor congress’ and non-party working-class organizations; (6) Trade unions and the Party; (7) Guerrilla actions; (8) Unemployment, the economic crisis and lock-outs; (9) Organizational questions; (10) The International Congress in Stuttgard (May Day, militarism); (11) Work in the army; (12) Miscellanea. One of the main questions at the Congress was that of the attitude to bourgeois parties, on which Lenin made the report. The Congress adopted the Bolshevik resolutions on all questions of principle. The Central Committee elected by the Congress consisted of 5 Bolsheviks, 4 Mensheviks, 2 Polish and 1 Lettish Social-Democrats. The alternate members elected were: 10 Bolsheviks, 7 Mensheviks, 3 Polish and 2 Lettish Social-Democrats.
        “The Congress constituted an important victory for the Bolsheviks over the Mensheviks, the opportunist wing of the Party. For further information on the Fifth Congress see Lenin’s article ‘The Attitude Towards Bourgeois Parties’ [LCW 12:489-509].” —Note 299, Lenin: SW I (1967).


The Fifth (All-Russian) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in Paris from December 21 to December 27, 1908 (January 3-9, 1909). The conference was attended by representatives of the biggest Party organizations—the St. Petersburg, Urals, Caucasian, Moscow, and Central Industrial Regional committees—and of the Polish Social-Democratic Party and the Bund. Sixteen delegates had the right to vote (5 Bolsheviks, 3 Mensheviks, 5 Polish Social-Democrats and 3 Bundists). Lenin represented the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. at the Conference.
        “The items on the agenda were: (1) Reports of the Central Committees of the R.S.D.L.P., the Polish Social-Democratic Party and the Bund, and of the St. Petersburg, Moscow, Central Industrial Regional, Urals and Caucasian organizations of the R.S.D.L.P.; (2) The current political situation and the tasks of the Party; (3) The Social-Democratic Duma group; (4) Organizational questions arising out of the changed political conditions; (5) The unification with non-Russian organizations in the localities; (6) Affairs abroad; (7) Miscellaneous.
        “Lenin delivered a report on ‘The Tasks of the Party in the Present Situation’ and also spoke on the question of the Duma group and other questions. The Bolsheviks at the Conference conducted a struggle against two types of opportunism in the Party, ‘against the
liquidators, the overt enemies of the Party, and against the otzovists, covert enemies of the Party’. On Lenin’s proposal the Conference condemned liquidationism and called upon all Party organizations to pursue a relentless struggle against attempts to liquidate the Party.” —Note 265, Lenin: SW I (1967).


The Plenary Meeting of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P., commonly known as the ‘Unity’ Meeting, was held from January 2 to 23 (January 15-February 5), 1910, in Paris. The Meeting was convened despite Lenin’s wishes with the assitance of Trotsky’s secret allies, Zinovyev, Kamenev, and Rykov. In addition to the Bolsheviks, representatives of all the factions and factional groups and representatives of the non-Russian Social-Democratic organizations were present. Lenin’s plan for closer relations with the pro-Party Mensheviks (Plekhanov’s group) in the struggle against the liquidators was opposed by the conciliators, who were secret Trotskyites. They demanded the disbandonment of all factions, and the amalgamation of the Bolsheviks with the liquidators and Trotskyites. The conciliators were in the majority at the Meeting. The Bolsheviks were in the minority. It was only due to Lenin’s insistence that the Plenary Meeting adopted a resolution condemning liquidationism and otzovism. Nothwithstanding Lenin’s attitude, the Meeting adopted decisions to abolish the Bolshevik organ Proletary, disband the Bolshevik Center and hand over its property to the C.C., and the available funds to the representatives of the international Social-Democratic movement (the ‘trustees’) Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin, and Karl Kautsky. Lenin succeeded in getting conditions for the simultaneous liquidation of the Golos and Vperyod factional centers included in the resolution of the Plenary Meeting. The Meeting carried a resolution to the effect that financial assistance be given to Trotsky’s Vienna Pravda, which his agents Zinovyev and Kamenev, tried to convert into the organ of the Central Committee.
        “Despite Lenin’s protest, Menshevik-liquidators were elected to the central bodies. For Lenin’s struggle at the Plenary Meeting against the liquidators, Trotskyites and conciliators see his article ‘Notes of a Publicist’ [in LCW vol. 17].” —Note 3 in LCW 17.

An interimperialist war between rising Japan and the rather moribund Tsarist Russian Empire. This war marked the “coming out” of Japanese imperialism on a world scale, and was the first time that an Asian power defeated an European one in a major conflict. Except for the naval battles, this war took place entirely on the territory of a third country—China. Japan easily triumphed in this war, more because of its superior military strategy and tactics than because of superior equipment, as well as because of Tsarist Russia’s military incompetence.

“Japan’s armies outfought and outmaneuvered the Russians both on land and, perhaps even more important, at sea. In the decisive land battle for Mukden, the largest Manchurian city (now called Shenyang), the Russians lost ninety thousand men. In the decisive naval confrontation, in the Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan, the Japanese fleet under the command of Admiral Togo Heihachiro annihilated the Russian fleet, most of which had sailed eighteen thousand miles from its home port in the Baltic Sea. Only three Russian ships escaped. Russia lost all eight of the battleships in its fleet and five thousand men—compared to Japanese losses of three torpedo boats and 116 men. [As part of the settlement of the war] Russia agreed that Korea would be part of Japan’s sphere of influence, and Japan seized the whole country in 1910. Japan was awarded the southern half of the Sakhalin Island chain, which had belonged to Russia, and it took over the special colonialist rights that Russia had had in southern Manchuria, including a lease on the port of Port Arthur and control over the South Manchurian Railroad.” —Richard Bernstein, a bourgeois historian, China 1945 (2014), pp. 51-52.


A faction of the
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) during the late 1960s in the United States. [More to be added... ]

Dictionary Home Page and Letter Index