A Fine Business!
|Written||18 August 1913|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 305-306.
There are still many corners of Holy Mother Russia where it is as if serfdom reigned but yesterday. Take the Urals, for example. Landowners there possess tens of thousands of dessiatines of land. The factories (i.e., the same land owners) prevent handicraftsmen from developing small industry. The peasants are still dependent on the landowners and up to now have not been allotted any land.
And the Urals is not a tiny “corner”, it is a huge and very rich region.
Litigation between the Stroganov factory workers in the Urals and the management of the factories owned by that very rich landowner over the allotment of land to the peas ants according to the law of 1862 (eighteen sixty-two!) dragged on for many years.
At last an end was put to the case by a decision of the “supreme institution”, the Senate, taken in the spring of 1909. The Senate directed the Perm Gubernia authorities to allot land to the peasants, to apply the law of 1862.
Thus, forty-seven years after the promulgation of the law the Senate instructed the landowners to apply it.
And what happened?
What happened was that the landowners lodged a complaint with the landowner Stolypin, who was Minister of the Interior at the time. The Senate is, by law, higher than the Minister of the Interior, but Stolypin “clamped down on the law” and sent the Governor of Perm a telegram—suspend fulfilment of the Senate’s instructions!
The Governor suspended it. More correspondence ensued, more red tape.
At last the Council of State agreed with the opinion of the Senate and the decision of the Council of State was “granted supreme sanction”, i.e., was confirmed by the highest authority.
And what happened?
What happened was that the landowners applied to the landowner N. A. Maklakov, who had become Minister of the Interior in place of Stolypin. A deputation from the Urals landowners “convinced” the Minister. The Minister declared that the decision of the Senate and the Council of State was “unclear”.
More correspondence ensued, more red tape.
In May 1913 the Senate again adopted a decision that was not in the Minister’s favour.
The Urals landowners again wrote to the Minister....
That is how the matter still stands. Although more than half a century has elapsed since the promulgation of the law of 1862 allotting land to the Urals workers, the land has not been allotted.
In relating this instructive story the liberal newspapers come to the conclusion that all is not right with the “rule of law” in Russia. That is true, but it is not the whole truth.
It is ridiculous to speak of “law” when the landowners both make the laws and in practice apply or annul them. There is, therefore, a class that itself creates the “law” and itself annuls it. Liberal speeches about “law” and “reforms”, therefore, are empty chatter.
The landowners are also in favour of “law”, but it is landowners’ law, their own law, the law of their class that they favour.
If the liberals still renounce the “theory” of the class struggle, call it a mistake, etc., in face of these instructive facts, it only goes to show that the liberal conscience is not clear. Do not the liberals want to share privileges with the landowners? If so, it is understandable that they do not like the “theory” of the class struggle!
But in what way are the workers to blame if their “theory” is proved correct by real events?