One More Departure From Democratic Principles
|Written||18 May 1917|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 437-438.
The Narodniks and Mensheviks, who are editing Izvestia, wish to be considered socialists, but do not even know how to be democrats. In their issue No. 68, for May 17, they advise “caution” with regard to the “slogan of partial re-elections”. They tell the workers that “deputies should be elected for a fixed term—two or three months, say—but never [!] for a week, from one meeting to another”.
Is it proper for an official organ to worry about re-elections and to advise “caution”? . ..Caution in what? In the expression of popular distrust in that organ!
That is the first question.
The second question is: Should not an intelligent democrat deal with the question of caution in the matter of re-elections (if it is to be dealt with at all) from the point of view of partyism? Is it not his duty, for instance, to say: We, Narodniks and Mensheviks, consider the line taken by our bloc to be correct on such-and-such grounds, and that of the Bolsheviks to be incorrect for such-and-such reasons? Why then do the editors depart from democratic principles and, instead of appealing to partyism, use such a strange argument as that mistakes at elections are an “exception”? Don’t they know that the “mistake” of having the Skobelevs and Chernovs join the capitalist cabinet is being weighed and discussed by the workers everywhere, that it is not an “exception” at all?
The third question is this: Is it not the duty of a democrat, who wishes to raise the question of re-elections, to recognise and emphasise the principle of democracy—the right of the population at any time to recall each and every representative, each and every person holding elected office?
Will not the editors of Izvestia, if they still reckon with the opinions of the founders of scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, recall what those real socialists said with regard to such a right?