|Written||16 April 1914|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 237-238.
In Put Pravdy No. 48 (for March 28), the Russian Social-Democratic Labour group in the Duma published the text of its Bill on national equality, or, to quote its official title, “Bill for the Abolition of All Disabilities of the Jews and of All Restrictions on the Grounds of Origin or Nationality”.
Amidst the alarms and turmoil of the struggle for existence, for a bare livelihood, the Russian workers cannot and must not forget the yoke of national oppression under which the tens and tens of millions of “subject peoples” inhabiting Russia are groaning. The ruling nation—the Great Russians—constitute about 45 per cent of the total population of the Empire. Out of every 100 inhabitants, over 50 belong to “subject peoples”.
And the conditions of life of this vast population are even harsher than those of the Russians.
The policy of oppressing nationalities is one of dividing nations. At the same time it is a policy of systematic corruption of the people’s minds. The Black Hundreds’ plans are designed to foment antagonism among the different nations, to poison the minds of the ignorant and downtrodden masses. Pick up any Black-Hundred newspaper and you will find that the persecution of non-Russians, the sowing of mutual distrust between the Russian peasant, the Russian petty bourgeois and the Russian artisan on the one hand, and the Jewish, Finnish, Polish, Georgian and Ukrainian peasants, petty bourgeois and artisans on the other, is meat and drink to the whole of this Black-Hundred gang.
But the working class needs unity, not division. It bas no more bitter enemy than the savage prejudices and superstitions which its enemies sow among the ignorant masses. The oppression of “subject peoples” is a double-edged weapon. It cuts both ways—against the “subject peoples” and against the Russian people.
That is why the working class must protest most strongly against national oppression in any shape and form.
It must counter the agitation of the Black Hundreds, who try to divert its attention to the baiting of non-Russians, by asserting its conviction as to the need for complete equality, for the complete and final rejection of all privileges for any one nation.
The Black Hundreds carry on a particularly venomous hate-campaign against the Jews. The Purishkeviches try to make the Jewish people the scapegoat for all their own sins.
And that is why the R.S.D.L. group in the Duma did right in putting Jewish disabilities in the forefront of its Bill.
The schools, the press, the parliamentary rostrum—every thing is being used to sow ignorant, savage, and vicious hatred of the Jews.
This dirty and despicable work is undertaken, not only by the scum of the Black Hundreds, but also by reactionary professors, scholars, journalists and members of the Duma. Millions and thousands of millions of rubles are spent on poisoning the minds of the people.
It is a point of honour for the Russian workers to have this Bill against national oppression backed by tens of thousands of proletarian signatures and declarations.... This will be the best means of consolidating complete unity, amalgamating all the workers of Russia, irrespective of nationality.
- See pp. 172–73 of this volume.—Ed.