The Cadet Duma Grants Money to the Pogrom-Mongers’ Government
|Written||25 June 1906|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, pages 60-63.
The inevitable has happened. From now on, the Budget of the autocratic government of pogrom-mongers will contain a small item that has been approved by the “people’s”— if you please—representatives. It’s the first step that’s difficult, as the French say; or as we say in Russia: the first glass must be forced down, the second trickles down, and all the others glide down in a merry stream. The Cadets have swallowed the first glass in company with the henchmen of the autocracy.
Let us carefully trace the course of this historical event. The Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Finance asked the Duma to grant 50 million rubles for famine relief. “Legally”, the Ministers could not obtain this money, could not take control of the relief campaign, without the consent of the Duma. The Ministers did not ask the Duma who is to be in charge of this campaign: “Legally”, it must in any case be in the hands of the pogrom—mongers’ government. Nor did the Ministers indicate in their proposal how the money is to be obtained. They merely said: “To allow the Minister of Finance to procure.” It was only in the Committee that the Ministers proposed that a loan be floated to provide the money. Yesterday, however, the Minister of Finance bluntly stated in the Duma: “It is within the competence of the State Duma to authorise procurements, but the manner of procurement [we are quoting from Rech and take no responsibility for the style] “is determined by the supreme power.” Thus, all that the Ministers had to obtain from the Duma was an assignment in general, but they were less concerned about the sources.
Two main solutions of the problem, which we indicated the other day, were at once put forward in the Duma. The Cadets proposed that a sum of 15 million rubles be assigned with the proviso that an account of its expenditure be submitted to the Duma, and that the amount be taken out of the “anticipated savings” in the 1906 Budget. That, and nothing more. But the Minister of Finance very coolly said in reply to the Cadets: “If the State Duma decides to grant 15 mil lion rubles,the Ministry of Finance will release that sum ... but will release it not from anticipated savings but from other secured items of expenditure.” After making the expenditure, the Minister “will come to the State Duma and say: You compelled us to make an expenditure for which we found no surpluses.”
Thus, the matter is as clear as daylight. The Minister simply spat in the face of the Cadet Duma: We shall use your permission to take 15 million rubles, he said in effect, but as for your decision about “savings”, it is just empty words. The Minister did not hesitate to say that there would be no savings. He did not hesitate to say that he was quite willing to obtain money by assignment of the Duma, but he snapped his fingers at its advice about “savings”.
What role did the Cadet Duma actually play in this business? The role of a witness called by the police to approve its expenditure of money filched from the people. “Legally”, the signature of witnesses is required for the appropriation of money. The police demanded the signature. The Cadet Duma gave it. That is all the police wanted. The fact that the witnesses kicked a bit, did not worry them in the least.
But it was the Cadet Duma that played the part of police witnesses. The Social-Democratic deputies took up an entirely different and correct position. They spoke on the lines that we suggested the other day. “I declare, gentlemen,” said Comrade Ramishvili in his excellent speech, “that if we grant the government a farthing, even that farthing will never reach the people.” In their resolution, which we published yesterday, the Social-Democrats quite rightly said that no money should be given to the autocratic government, that the State Duma ought to set up its own relief committee, send its members to the affected areas and invite the co-operation of “free public organisations”. The Social-Democrats turned their resolution into a revolutionary appeal to the people which branded the government as “the real culprit responsible for the famine”, squandering the people’s money on waging war against the people. The Social-Democrats demanded the cessation of expenditure on the gendarmerie, the political police, the rural mounted police, and so forth; they demanded a reduction in the salaries and pensions of high-placed drones and an audit of the cash balance and accounts of the Treasury. They also quite rightly demanded that the revenues from crown, church and monastery lands be used for famine relief. The Social-Democrats openly indicted the old regime as a whole, and all its organs, and also criticised the whole Budget.
How did the Duma vote? The Cadets won, of course. According to the unanimous statements of a number of newspapers, the Trudoviks voted with the Social-Democrats (unfortunately, a roll-call vote was not taken). The political alignment is becoming more and more distinct. The Octobrists and Cadets are in favour of coming to terms with the old regime. The Social-Democrats and Trudoviks are strongly opposed to this. The vigorous and united action of the Social-Democrats not only won over the peasants, but even caused a slight split among the Cadets. Not only the Left Galetsky, but even the Right Kuzmin-Karavayev was ashamed of playing the role of police witness. It was the Cadets, and the Cadets alone, who put the shameful signature of the “people’s representatives” to the assignment of money to the pogrom-mongers.
This signature of the Cadet Duma is of enormous importance in principle. Naive people and short-sighted politicians often say: The accusation that the Cadets are traitors and want to make a deal with the bureaucrats is ground less and premature. But this assignment of money to the pogrom-mongers’ government is just such a deal—and strictly speaking, not the first. Look at the miserable shifts the Cadets resort to in their attempts to justify themselves. This is a compromise, yells Nasha Zhizn, but it is justified by the temporary circumstances. Of course, gentlemen, all compromises between the bourgeoisie and the police autocracy have always been attributed to temporary circumstances.
But the peasants need immediate relief! Have not the peasant deputies betrayed the peasants? What do you think, gentlemen of the Cadet Party? The peasant deputies voted against the grant because they know better than you do where the money would go after passing through police hands. Why could not the State Duma take this matter in its own hands?
That is utopian, impracticable; we must reckon with the available organisation until it is changed by law—is the unanimous cry of the Heydens, Kokovtsovs, Milyukovs, and even the Bernsteinians of Nasha Zhizn. Yes, gentle men, the bourgeoisie always regards the abolition of all the organs of the old regime as utopian because it wants to use these organs against the proletariat and against the revolutionary peasantry. In a police-ridden class state there will always be an endless amount of “urgent” expenditure. Once they have been engaged officials must be maintained; con tracts that have been concluded must be paid for, and so on and so forth. There will always be an “available organisation” (namely, the police-bureaucratic organisation) which it is “impossible” to change at one stroke, without the consent of the Council of State, and so on and so forth.
Such excuses will always be found. These are the excuses that the liberal bourgeoisie hands out to credulous people in every country. These excuses are the natural screen with which the bourgeoisie tries to cover up its betrayal of the cause of the people’s freedom.
The proletariat will always fight this hypocritical game. It will call upon the people to fight against all the organs and institutions of the old regime; to fight through the medium of the free organisations of the working class and the revolutionary peasantry.
- Interpolations in square brackets (within passages quoted by Lenin) have been introduced by Lenin, unless otherwise indicated.— Ed.
- See pp. 43-47 of this volume.—Ed.