|Written||5 February 1913|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 18, pages 545-546.
Bourgeois society lives and subsists exclusively by the wage labour of the millions. Failing this, neither the in comes of the landlords, nor the profits of the capitalists, nor yet the various derivative” sources of a life of plenty, such as royalties, salaries, etc., would be possible. And the force which drives the millions into the ranks of wage labourers is hunger.
This is an old, universally known, hackneyed fact. The bourgeois public gets used to it and “does not notice” it. But from time to time glaring cases of want and poverty side by side with luxury compel “discoveries” to be made, particularly if the health and well-being of the bourgeois gentlemen are endangered! Once in a while they “discover”, in every big city and any rural backwoods, appalling, abominable squalor, want and neglect unworthy of human beings. They “discover” them, inform the public through the “big” newspapers, comment on the fact for a day or two, and then forget it. The sated do not understand the hungry,
Recently in St. Petersburg a Dr. Kozlovsky, who inspected 251 lodging rooms in Rozhdestvensky District, acquainted the public with a “discovery” of this kind.
“Dark, damp rooms, suffocating air, squalor, people sleeping on trunks or on the floor, horrible overcrowding (3,578 tenants in 251 lodging rooms), crushed bugs on the walls—an appalling picture” (Novoye Vremya, No. 13236).
The public health society which heard the report resolved to study the problem, to make representations ... to ask for an investigation—i.e., it did all it could.
A few figures from St. Petersburg statistics for 1911. The Special Department for the Investigation and Accommodation of Paupers had 16,960 paupers entrusted to its care. Of these, 1,761 were handed over to the courts—next time they will know better than to disturb clean people!—1,371 were sent back to their native parts (the countryside is “accustomed” to having paupers on its hands). 1,892 remained to be cared for in the institutions of the Department, and 9,694 were released.
People did work hard in the Department, after all—they “investigated”; they do not get their salaries for nothing.
The same year 1911 saw 43,156 unskilled workers apply for employment to the city labour exchange (beyond Moskovskaya Zastava). Work was found for 6,076 men.
The “released” (those freed from “care “in the case of the paupers and from jobs in the case of unskilled labour) spend the night in the street, in doss-houses, in lodging rooms.... They are material for discoveries.