Concerning the Workers’ Deputies to the Duma and Their Declaration
Published for the first time. Published according to a copy made by N. K. Krupskaya.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 18, pages 420-423.
The document “Concerning the Workers’ Deputies to the Duma and Their Declaration” was the draft of a declaration of the Social-Democratic group. It was copied by N. K. Krupskaya and sent to the Bolshevik members of the Duma from Cracow on November 13 (26), 1912. The draft was Intercepted by the tsar’s police.
The Social-Democratic group, speaking from the platform of the Fourth Duma, declares that there is an inseparable continuity between its activity and that of the Social-Democratic groups in the previous Dumas, particularly the one in the Second Duma, a group against which the counter-revolutionaries committed an act of unprecedented political vengeance. The Russian Social-Democratic Party is a contingent of the great international liberation army of the socialist proletariat. This army is now growing rapidly throughout the world. The universal high cost of living, the oppression of capital grouped in associations, cartels, trusts and syndicates, and the imperialist policies of the Powers make the condition of the working masses intolerable and aggravate the struggle between capital and labour. The time is fast approaching when an end will be put to capitalism, when millions of united proletarians will establish a social system in which there will be no poverty of the masses, nor exploitation of man by man.
The Social-Democratic group joins its voice to that of the workers of all countries, who at the International Congress in Basle expressed an emphatic protest against war. The workers demand peace. They protest against all interference in Balkan affairs. Only complete freedom and independence of the Balkan peoples, and only a federal Balkan republic are capable of providing the best way out of the present crisis and a real solution to the national question through the recognition of complete equality and an absolute right to political self-determination for all nationalities without exception.
The Social-Democratic group in the Fourth Duma protests above all against the foreign policy of the Russian Government. It condemns the hidden intention to enlarge our state by seizing foreign territories on the Bosphorus, in Turkish Armenia, in Persia and China, and condemns the seizure of Mongolia, which disrupts good relations with the great, fraternal Chinese Republic.
All chauvinism and nationalism will find an implacable enemy in the Social-Democratic group—whether the crude, brutal nationalism of the government which crushes and strangles Finland, Poland, the Ukraine, the Jews and the other non-Great-Russian nationalities, or the hypocritically disguised, refined nationalism of the liberals and Cadets, who are willing to talk about the tasks of Russia as a Great Power and about an agreement between her and other Powers with the aim of plundering foreign lands.
The ruling classes resort to noisy nationalist speeches in a vain effort to divert the attention of the people from the intolerable domestic position of Russia. The unheard of rigging of the Fourth Duma elections, which is reminiscent of the Bonapartist methods of that adventurer, Napoleon III, has shown for the hundredth and thousandth time that the government cannot rely for support upon any one class of the population. It cannot even maintain its alliance with the landlords and the big bourgeoisie, for the sake of which the coup d’état of June 3, 1907, was carried out. The Duma has swung to the right while the whole country has moved to the left.
The whole of Russia is suffocating under the yoke of oppression and tyranny. The entire civilised world hears with startled indignation of the tortures and the suffering of political prisoners in the Kutomara, Algachi and other prisons, where the finest people of our country are languishing in torment. Russia needs political liberty as badly as man needs air to breathe. Russia cannot live and develop unless there is freedom of the press, assembly, association and strikes, and, more than to any other class, these liberties are indispensable to the proletariat, which the lack of rights typical of Russian reality binds hand and foot in the fight it must carry on for higher wages, shorter working hours and better living conditions. The oppression of capital, the high cost of living, unemployment in the towns and the impoverishment of the countryside make it all the more necessary for the workers to associate in unions and fight for their right to live, while lack of political liberty keeps the worker in the position of a slave or serf. The workers will stop at no sacrifice in their struggle for freedom, well knowing that only a radical change in all the political conditions of Russian life, only the fullest provision of the foundations and pillars of political liberty, can guarantee the freedom of their struggle against capital.
The elections to the Fourth Duma and the workers’ mass political strikes in 1912, which involved up to a mil lion workers, showed that the time is drawing near when the workers will again march at the head of all democrats to win freedom. Three camps tested their strength in the election struggle. The camp of government counter-revolution proved so impotent that it had to rig the elections even under the law of June 3, compelling the downtrodden rural priests to vote against their conscience and convictions. The liberal camp moved still further from the democrats towards the big bourgeoisie. The Cadets demonstrated their counter-revolutionary nature by an alliance with the Black Hundreds against the Social-Democrats in Riga and Yekaterinodar, in Kostroma and the first St. Petersburg curia. The liberal utopia of constitutional reform, with the foundations of the present political system unchanged and without a powerful movement of the people, is more and more losing favour among the democrats. The slogan of the liberals is: “There is no need for a second revolution, what is needed is merely constitutional work.” Being fully aware of the spuriousness of this slogan, the working class waged its struggle in the elections, rallying all the democratic forces to itself.
Everyone knows, and even the government press said so, that the working class had three slogans in the election campaign: a democratic republic, an eight-hour working day, and confiscation of all the landed estates in favour of the peasants.
The Social-Democratic proletariat is convinced that these three demands are the necessary culmination of the demands shared by every democrat, such as universal suffrage, freedom of the press, assembly, association and strikes, the election of judges and government officials by the people, abolition of the standing army and introduction of a people’s militia, disestablishment of the Church and separation of the school from the Church, etc.
The condition of the peasant masses in Russia is becoming more and more intolerable. The government’s so-called “land distribution system” merely worsens the plight of the majority by ruining the countryside, leading to famine such as affected 30 million peasants last year, and bringing no lasting improvement of agriculture in general. The pretence of financial prosperity is kept up by extorting taxes and befuddling the population with drink, while the government delays its bankruptcy by contracting more and more loans. Even the modest land Bill submitted to the Duma by the forty-three Right-wing peasants has been shelved. No wonder the better section of the peasantry is looking more and more to the working class as the only leader of the people in the struggle for freedom. No wonder all democrats regard the political strikes of 1912, which are inseparably linked with the economic movement of the working class, as the dawn of a new life, of a new more powerful emancipation movement.
The Social-Democratic group in the Fourth Duma will champion the interests and needs of this movement. It considers that it has no right to conceal from the majority in the Fourth Duma what all the class-conscious workers of Russia are thinking and feeling. The class-conscious workers remain unshakably loyal to socialism. They re main unshakably loyal to the principles of the old, battle-tested Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party. In the name of these principles, they remain unshakably loyal to their republican convictions.