Russian Social Democratic Labour Party

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The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (abbreviated RSDLP) was a political party formally founded in 1898, later splitting into the majority (Bolshevik) and minority (Menshevik) factions.



Historically, the vast majority of workers in the Russian Empire were employed, either in farming or individual artisan labour. While serfdom had begrudgingly been abolished in 1861 during a time of weakness for the aristocracy, this did not mean that the lands, which had up until then been worked by the serfs, would be given to them for free. Former serfs had to pay exorbitant sums for the shrunken plots of land they could actually afford, but were in many cases forced to sell what little they owned in order to rent land and tools from wealthier farmers. The abolishment of serfdom gradually concentrated the ownership of land into fewer and fewer hands, ownership which came at the expense of the growing masses of the rural poor, in effect transforming the previously feudal rural relations into soundly capitalistic ones.

Alongside, and partially due to, the conditions in the countryside, large numbers of the rural poor flocked into the cities as part of the growing industrial proletariat. The conditions there were not much better, with at least 12 hour workdays in the factories and up to 14 to 15 hour workdays in the textile mills, with women and children working the same amount of hours for lower pay.[1] Horrible working conditions, brutal exploitation, and abject poverty forced the urban workers into radical action, sporadically organizing themselves into more or less isolated organizations in order to collectively bargain, and fight if needed, for better conditions.


  1. C.C of the C.P.S.U.(B.) (1945). "1". History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks): Short Course. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House. p. 6.