Are the Mensheviks Entitled to Conduct a Policy of Supporting the Cadets?
|Written||22 February 1907|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 194-196.1.
What determines Social-Democratic policy?
Essentially the class interests of the proletariat. Formally, the decisions of Party congresses.
Which are these decisions? First, the decisions of the Unity (Stockholm) Congress of the RSDLP Second, the decisions of the November All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP, approved by the CC
What does the resolution of the Stockholm Congress instruct us to do about the Duma?
...(point 1, a) “strive to extend and sharpen these conflicts (meaning the conflicts both between the government and the Duma, and inside the Duma itself) to limits making it possible to use them as starting-points for broad mass movements aimed at...” etc.
Have the Mensheviks abided by this direction of the Congress? In the matter of the presidium have they extended and sharpened the conflict between the Duma Left wing and the Cadets?
No, the Mensheviks have been committing a breach of the Congress’s decision.
Furthermore, in the same resolution the Congress directed: “...that this intervention should be conducted in such a way as to make these sharpening clashes: (a) reveal to the mass the inconsistency of all the bourgeois parties which under take to act as spokesmen for the people’s will in the Duma, and (b) bring the broad mass (the proletariat, the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie) to an awareness that the Duma is totally useless”, etc.
Consequently, the Mensheviks could, without risking anything at all, or abandoning absolutely legal ground—the Mensheviks were duty-bound to—show the mass, i.e., openly in the Duma, that the Cadet presidium is a presidium of a party which has turned its back on the revolution.
What was the instruction to the Party contained in the resolution of the November All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP, which was approved by the Central Committee and adopted by the 18 Menshevik delegates?
“In its election campaign, the RSDLP, acting as an independent class party of the proletariat, sets itself the aim... 2) to explain to the masses that all hopes for a peaceful outcome of the struggle for power are illusory.
“...4) to stimulate the political activity of the masses and, organising the forces of the revolution outside and inside the Duma, to create conditions for transforming the latter into a strongpoint of the revolution....”
Starting from November 1906, the Mensheviks have moved so far over to the right that they at once broke their own resolution. Their first step tends to disorganise the “forces of the revolution” inside the Duma, fortifying the masses in the hope of a peaceful outcome, for a Cadet presidium elected by the entire Duma, without a protest from the Left, would be an official nation-wide confirmation by the Social-Democrats of the very hopes which they recognise as being “illusory”.
The Cadets have openly and totally turned away from the revolution. The “forces of the revolution” are the Left, the Trudoviks, the S.R.s (the revolutionary bourgeoisie) and the Social-Democrats. To help organise, instead of disorganising, the “forces of the revolution” we are duty-bound to tell the masses: the Social-Democrats support a Left-wing, Trudovik presidium against the Cadets. In the event a Trudovik presidium were elected and failed to live up to democratic hopes, we should then use this to expose the democratic petty bourgeoisie before the mass, thereby strengthening the conviction that the proletariat is the only consistently democratic class.
What did the CC tell the Party and the people when starting the election campaign? We find that the official electoral platform of the RSDLP says:
“...Citizens, the only men to elect to the Duma should be those who not only want Russia to be free, but strive to help the people’s revolution to win this freedom.... The First Duma failed to do this. Its majority, led by the ‘people’s freedom’ party, had hoped to secure freedom and land through peaceful negotiations with the government.... That is why it is not meek petitioners that should be elected to the Duma.... Citizens, elect revolutionary fighters who will join you in carrying forward the great cause started in January, October and December of last year.”
What fine, grand words, fitting for the proletariat! What a pity that for the Mensheviks they have turned out to be empty words.
In their party electoral platform they condemned the Cadet majority in the First Puma and its Cadet policies, but are now helping artificially to restore Cadet hegemony in the Left-wing Duma.