Fedor Dan was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1871. As a young man he joined the Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class. Arrested in August, 1896, Dan was exiled to Orlov for three years.
On his return he joined the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) and attended the Second Congress of the Social Democratic Labour Party in London in 1903. At the Congress there was a dispute between Vladimir Lenin and Julius Martov, two of SDLP's leaders. Lenin argued for a small party of professional revolutionaries with a large fringe of non-party sympathizers and supporters. Martov disagreed believing it was better to have a large party of activists.
Julius Martov based his ideas on the socialist parties that existed in other European countries such as the British Labour Party. Lenin argued that the situation was different in Russia as it was illegal to form socialist political parties under the Tsar's autocratic government. At the end of the debate Martov won the vote 28-23 . Vladimir Lenin was unwilling to accept the result and formed a faction known as the Bolsheviks. Those who remained loyal to Martov became known as Mensheviks.
Dan supported Julius Martov and along with Pavel Axelrod, Leon Trotsky, Irakli Tsereteli, Moisei Uritsky, and Noi Zhordania, became a Menshevik. He also joined the editorial board of its journal, Iskra and co-editor with Martov of Voice of the Social Democrat.
After several years in exile Dan returned to Russia in January, 1913. He lived in St. Petersburg where he edited a variety of newspapers published by the Mensheviks.
1. Was highly critical of Nicholas II and the autocracy.
2. Wanted Russia to have universal suffrage.
3. Wanted the Russian government to allow freedom of expression and an end to political censorship of newspapers and books.
4. Believed that democracy could only be achieved in Russia by the violent overthrow of Nicholas II and the autocracy.
6. Believed that if Russia did go to war with Austria-Hungary and Germany the Mensheviks, Bolsheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries should join the war effort as he did not want to lose the war and be ruled by foreigners.