Georgian Social Democratic Party’s individuality

Stephen F. Jones “Socialism in Georgian Colors” – Harvard University Press – 2005

Chapter 5: « The split at home »

Excerpt from “Conclusion” P. 127-128

« At this time, Niko Nikoladze, in a letter to Jordania, told him that Georgians regarded him “as a messiah”*. Grigol Uratadze recalls his impressive bearing. Jordania used both his charisma and theoretical status to keep Georgian social democracy out from under Russian ideological hegemony. After the split, Jordania helped create a pluralistic party organization, which in many ways resembled the Gramscian “intellectual collective”. Its aim was to unite small businessmen, poor peasants, and professionals behind the workers’ party. In a sense the Georgian policy was more Menshevik than the Mensheviks’ own-it was what Axelrod, the doyen of Russian Menshevism called “the going of the proletariat into all classes”. But for most Mensheviks and Russian Bolsheviks, the Georgian policies took on a heretic tinge because they led to a workers’ party diluted with peasants and meshchane.  (…).

The source of Georgian Social Democratic individuality was, paradoxically, its pursuit of Russian Marxist orthodoxy. It followed Axelrod’s idea that the party should consist of and be run by the working people themselves and Plekhanov’s idea – written into the program of the RSDLP- that the party should represent “all strata of the laboring and exploited population”. Both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks generally ignored these principles. But the Georgians’ political environment was the vital factor. The event that contributed the most significantly to the Georgian Social Democrats’ ideological distinctiveness and practice was the peasant rebellion in the west Georgian countryside between 1902 and 1906. It reinforced the Georgian Social democrats’ conviction that they had different problems and opportunities than those in Russia. The peasant movement in western Georgia did two things: first it transformed the Georgian section of the RSDLP into a mass party, and, second, it moved the Georgian organization closer toward a party of national unity rather than international working-class solidarity. »

*See: Georgian State Historical Archive¸ F153, doss. 1, no. 585, 181



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