|Written||8 May 1914|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 284-285.
There are certain winged words which most aptly express rather complex phenomena. Among these should undoubtedly be included the statement made by a certain landlord, member of the Right majority in the Duma, in connection with Goremykin’s speech during the historic session of April 22.
“How nice it would be to have squire Goremykin for a neighbour!”
These words, uttered on the day the workers’ and peasants’ deputies were ejected from the Duma, are a very useful reminder now that these deputies have resumed their seats. These words admirably describe the force which the democrats have to contend with within the Duma and outside it.
The petty squire who uttered these winged words spoke them in jest but he unwittingly voiced a truth that was more serious and profound than he had intended. Indeed, take the whole of this Fourth Duma, the whole of this majority of Rights and Octobrists, and all the “bigwigs” in the Council of State—what are they all if not “neighbouring squires”?
In Russia 194 privy councillors own 3,103,579 dessiatines of land, an average of over 20,000 dessiatines per privy councillor. And all the big landowners in Russia, numbering less than 30,000, own 70,000,000 dessiatines of land. It is this class that forms the majority in the Duma, in the Council of State and among high government officials, to say nothing of the Zemstvo and local administrations. They are all “neighbouring squires”.
In our capitalist age these “neighbouring squires” are increasingly becoming factory owners, distillers, sugar manufacturers, and so forth; they are increasingly becoming shareholders in all kinds of commercial, industrial, financial, and railway undertakings. The highest nobility are becoming closely interwoven with the big bourgeoisie.
These “neighbouring squires” are the best class organisation in Russia, for they are organised, not only as neighbours, not only in associations, but also as a state force. They occupy all the most important institutions in the land, which are fashioned “in their own image”, to suit their own “needs” and interests. True, our state system has very important features of its own, attributable to the military history of Russia, and so forth, features which may sometimes displease even the class of the landed gentry. Nevertheless, by and large, the Great-Russian landed gentry set a splendid pattern of class organisation!
Our bourgeoisie make little use of this pattern. They dare not think, for example, of organising their own class into a state power. But the proletariat, organising as a class, has never forgotten and never will forget the splendid pattern set by the “neighbouring squires”....