The Party as Vanguard: The Role of the Russian Social Democratic Party in Strikes in St. Petersburg, 1912–1914


1 June 2012


Volume 1 – Number 1

How to cite

Alice K. Pate



From 1912–1914, Russian Social Democrats agreed that the expanding strike movement had to be controlled by the Party. Radicalization of the workers’ movement brought on by the stresses of modernization created a more mature movement in these years. After decades of illegal organization, followed by legal organization under a new law permitting the existence of “societies,” the trade union movement in Russia began to flower. The violent repression of striking workers at Lena Gold Fields led to an increase in the frequency of strikes and contributed to further radicalization of the workers in the years before 1914. Historians have contended that the more radical Bolshevik faction of the party won support from the radicalized workers while moderate Mensheviks condemned strike activity, favoring trade unionism and revisionism. Research of activities in St. Petersburg does not support this interpretation. This paper will argue that Russian Social Democrats in both the Menshevik and Bolshevik factions who were active in St. Petersburg organizations retained the theoretical position that the Party was the vanguard of the revolution.


Russian Social Democratic Party, Strikes, St. Petersburg, 1912-14, Bolsheviks, Mensheviks