The Declaration of Our Group in the Duma
|Written||22 June 1906|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, pages 32-37.
This article was written in connection with the declaration of the Social-Democratic Group in the Duma made by S. Djaparidze on June 16(29), 1906,during the debate on the Public Meetings Bill. In drawing up the declaration the Social-Democratic Group in the Duma rejected the Bolshevik draft written by Lenin (this draft with some abbreviations is quoted by Lenin in this article) and adopted the draft declaration approved by the Menshevik Central Committee.
No Social-Democrat can have any doubt now that in the present situation the pronouncements of our Party members in the Duma could be of great value to the cause of the proletariat and of the whole people.
We welcomed the election victories of our Caucasian comrades. We regard it as our duty to note their successes in the Duma and to criticise—in a business-like way—their mistakes.
As one of their successes we consider Comrade Ramishvili’s speech on the “danger” and “peacefulness” of the Duma. Another success was his resolution on the Belostok pogrom; yet another his excellent criticism of the Cadets’ Public Meetings Bill and the correct formulation of the question of Cadet project-mongering in general. We hope to discuss these successes with our readers in greater detail another time.
As one of the mistakes we consider the silence of our Social-Democrats in the Duma when Aladyin “swallowed” Nabokov’s mutilation of the resolution on the food question. The Social-Democrats ought to have protested and moved their own resolution. Another mistake was Comrade Gomarteli’s speech in reply to the hypocrite Fedorovsky in which he, a Social-Democrat, admitted that it was undesirable for the army to be involved in politics. This is a big mistake, but it can still be remedied. Lastly, we also consider as a mistake the declaration recently adopted by the Group in the Duma. This cannot be remedied. We must now examine this mistake, not in a carping spirit—our comrades’ task in the Duma is a difficult one, and mistakes are inevitable at first—but in the interests of the political education of the whole Party and of the whole proletariat.
The members of our Social-Democratic Group in the Duma had received another draft declaration from the camp of the former Bolsheviks. The following is this draft, slightly... abbreviated (in our country, newspapers do not enjoy the same freedom of speech as deputies in the Duma):
“Through the medium of our Group, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, the party of the class-conscious proletariat of all the nations inhabiting our state, addresses the whole people from the platform of the State Duma.
“Our Party is one of the contingents of the international army of the Social-Democratic proletariat. All over the world, the organised proletariat that is conscious of its class interests has risen for the struggle. It is fighting to throw off the yoke of capital. It is striving to secure the complete emancipation of all toilers from the yoke of tyranny, poverty, oppression and unemployment. Its object is to attain the socialist system of society, which will abolish all division of the people into exploiters and exploited. The Social-Democrats call upon all the toilers and the exploited to join their ranks, not only the wage-workers, but also small proprietors, if they are conscious of their common interests with the proletariat, if they are seeking salvation, not by consolidating individual small production, but by fighting jointly with the working class for the complete over throw of bourgeois rule. And by its united and steadfast struggle the international socialist proletariat will achieve its goal.
“In Russia, however, the struggle now going on is not for socialism, but for political freedom. The great Russian revolution is in full swing. The yoke of autocracy is preventing the development of the country. The tyranny of irresponsible officials and the barbarous exploitation of the mass of the peasantry by the landlords has roused the anger of the whole people. The proletariat has been in the vanguard of the people’s fight. By its heroic strike in October it compelled the enemy to recognise freedom. By its heroic insurrection in December it prevented all further procrastination in convening the assembly of the representatives of the people. In spite of the autocracy’s gerrymandering electoral law, its massacre, torture and imprisonment of the finest fighters for freedom, the State Duma, after all, turned out to be hostile to the autocracy.
“The people are now on the eve of another great struggle. The autocracy jeers at the assembly of the people’s representatives and scoffs at its demands. The anger of the workers, peasants and soldiers is steadily rising. The outcome of the great Russian revolution will be determined by the conduct of the various classes in society.
“In the democratic revolution that Russia is now passing through, the Liberal bourgeoisie, represented in the State Duma by the very influential Constitutional-Democratic Party, is inevitably endeavouring to restrict as far as possible the rights of the propertyless classes, and of the proletariat in particular, in order to hinder them in their struggle for complete, and not only political, emancipation. This aim of the liberal bourgeoisie, just as inevitably, results in its inconsistency and irresoluteness in the struggle for freedom, its wavering between the desire to lean on the people and its fear of the people’s revolutionary initiative. In the interests of freedom, and of socialism, we shall most relentlessly combat these waverings. We shall most strongly resist every attempt, no matter by whom, to obscure the irreconcilable antagonism between the interests of the people and the old order, and between the interests of the proletariat and those of the bourgeoisie. And we shall exert all our efforts to combat attempts to retard the popular movement by means of fraudulent paper concessions and the lie of conciliation between the reactionary robbers and the revolutionary, i. e., the only true and consistent, democrats. In particular, the touchstone of this consistency for us will be the desire and readiness to organise a free, really popular, mass movement, unhindered by police barriers, for an ex tensive struggle outside the Duma to effect political and economic emancipation.
“We regard the peasantry as the chief of the potential allies of the proletariat in the work of consummating the struggle for freedom. We whole-heartedly support to the very end the peasants’ struggle against semi-feudal landlordism and against the Asiatic political system in Russia. While rejecting the utopian idea that equal land tenure is possible under capitalism, and not permitting any attempt to obscure the difference in the interests of the proletarians and small proprietors, we shall advocate the confiscation of all crown, church, monastery and all landed estates. We shall strenuously oppose the redemption payments—the noose that the liberal bourgeoisie wants to put round the necks of the poor peasants. We shall warn the peasants against surrendering the land to the police-bourgeois authorities, local or central, until the victory of the revolution is achieved, and until a really democratic state has been fully attained. When a democratic state has been fully established, we shall advocate the transfer of all the land to the local self-governing bodies. We shall very strongly warn the peasants against allowing the land question to be settled by undemocratic local committees, such as the bureaucratic and landlord committees proposed by the Constitutional-Democratic Party.
“Throughout the course of the revolution we shall steadfastly support the struggle of the workers for an eight-hour day, higher wages, abolition of fines, in short, for all the demands of our Party’s minimum programme. We regard the alliance between the proletariat and the broad masses of the urban and rural poor as a guarantee of the further victory of the revolution. The State Duma is useless for achieving and consolidating this victory. Only a national constituent assembly—convened by revolutionary means and elected by a universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot of all citizens, irrespective of sex, creed or nationality, and endowed with complete state power—only such an assembly can bring about complete freedom. It alone can establish in Russia ... substitute the armed nation for the standing army, abolish the bureaucracy that is neither elected by or responsible to the people, and introduce complete and unrestricted political freedom.
“That is the aim that we shall steadily pursue in the present revolution. That is the aim that the State Duma too must serve. It must help the people to organise and fully and thoroughly to understand the necessity for over throwing the ... regime. It must explain to the people how powerless is the present ’assembly of the people’s representatives’ and what a miserable role it is playing as a new screen for the old autocracy. The Duma must not engage in political project-mongering, or in drafting stillborn ’Bills’, but must appeal to the people, ruthlessly tell it the whole truth, ruthlessly expose before it all the crimes that are committed by the gang ... government of Russia, and call upon it to wage a consistent, steadfast, persistent and co-ordinated struggle. And if the State Duma as a whole is unable or hesitates to undertake this duty, we will perform it in alliance with the genuinely revolutionary groups or individual members of the Duma.
“The victory of the people is not far distant. The cause of freedom is in reliable hands. The proletariat is at its post, mustering its forces, proudly spurning the efforts of wretched provocateurs to provoke it to fight single-handed, and uniting and rallying around itself the millions and tens of millions of the oppressed and exploited living in eternal toil and eternal poverty.
“And however weak and small our Group in the State Duma may be, we know that behind it and with it are fighting millions of proletarians, the vanguard of all the toiling and exploited masses. In this fight the proletariat will be victorious. It will raze to the ground the monstrous edifice built by the autocracy that is torturing Russia.”
Were our comrades in the Duma right in rejecting this draft?
From the formal point of view, they were. According to the Rules, they must be guided by the Central Committee, not by “outsiders
They were also right from the factional point of view, for this draft emanated from the “other” camp (if we reckon according to the former factions).
But what about the Party point of view? Were they right in rejecting the suggestion that it was desirable to formulate more clearly the socialist aims and the international character of the Party; that it was desirable to point to the movement outside the Duma; that it was necessary to make clear to the people the differences between the parties in the Duma; that it was necessary to draw a sharp distinction between proletarian and petty-bourgeois doctrines; that it was important for the workers’ party to protect .the peasants from the Cadets; and that our immediate demands should be more clearly and fully formulated?
Were our comrades, or our Central Committee, right in saying in their declaration: “make the Duma an organ of the popular movement” instead of using the formula endorsed by the Congress: make the Duma an instrument of the revolution?
Were they right in taking on all the points enumerated above an obvious step to the Right of the resolutions and decisions of the Unity Congress of our Party?
Let all the organisations, and all the members, of our Party carefully consider these questions.
- See present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 423-25.—Ed.
- This refers to the speech of I. I. Ramishvili putting forward the resolution of the Social-Democratic Group in the debate at the 24th session of the Duma on June 9 (22) on the anti-Jewish pogroms and police excesses in Vologda, Kalyazin, Tsaritsyn and other places in Russia. Dealing particularly with the pogrom in Belostok, Ramishvili said in his speech that this butchery was engineered by the Ministry of the Interior and the government generally. The resolution put forward by the Social-Democratic Duma Group demanded that the entire personnel of the higher administration should be put on trial for the crimes committed,
Later, on June29 (July 12), 1906, at the 35th Duma session, the Social-Democratic Group put forward a resolution specially devoted to the Belostok pogrom (the draft resolution was moved by S. Djaparidze).
- At the Duma session on June 12 (25), the Minister of the Interior Stolypin made a statement in reply to the interrogation of the Duma concerning the measures adopted by the government for combating famine. Speaking in the debate, the Trudovik Aladyin insisted that the government “should not be given a kopek”. The Cadet Nabokov, however, in his own name and in the name of Aladyin, succeeded in securing the adoption of a Cadet formula for passing to the next business. The Social-Democratic deputies did not protest and did not move their resolution. Lenin deals in detail with this question in the articles: “Famine Relief and the Tactics of the Duma”, “The Cadet Duma Grants Money to the Pogrom-Mongers’ Government” (see pp. 43-47 and pp. 60-63 of this volume).