The Political Crisis and the Bankruptcy of Opportunist Tactics

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 21 August 1906


MIA-bannière.gif
Proletary, No. 1, August 21, 1906. Published according to the Proletary text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, pages 150-166.
Collection(s): Proletary

I[edit source]

The dissolution of the Duma undoubtedly marked a grave political crisis in the course of the Russian revolution. Like every crisis, it at once extremely intensified all political antagonisms, revealed the influences underlying many events and definitely set before the people tasks which hitherto had been only looming, but had not yet penetrated the minds of the broad masses. Like every crisis that comes as the climax of a whole period of preceding development, the dissolution of the Duma inevitably served as a touch stone for testing and verifying the various trends of opinion on tactics. On the one hand, this crisis brings to a close a certain cycle of development and thus enables us clearly to determine whether the general appraisal of this development is right or wrong. On the other hand, it compels us to give immediate answers to a number of problems which rapidly become urgent, and these answers are often verified on the spot, so to speak, by the rapid course of events.

The dissolution of the Duma proved to be such a “touchstone” for the “two tactics” which have long been noticeable in the Russian Social-Democratic movement. During the “Duma period” we argued about these two tactics more or less calmly, as the political situation did not call for immediate and important political decisions. The dissolution of the Duma called for such decisions at once. The “two tactics” were put to the test by the political crisis. The results of this test must be closely studied.

II[edit source]

The Central Committee of our Party is in the hands of the Right-wing Social-Democrats. Prompt, precise and clear answers to the new tactical problems were required of them. What were their answers?

To the main question concerning the general character of the impending struggle, the Central Committee answered by proclaiming the following slogans: at the outset “For the resumption of the Duma sessions.” The Cadets took up this slogan (see Rech and the interview with Mr. Kedrin in the newspaper Oko[1]). The Social-Democratic Party rejected it. The Bolshevik members of the Central Committee and the St. Petersburg Committee of the Party protested. The Central Committee discarded the first slogan and proclaimed another in its place: “In defence of the Duma against the camarilla, for the purpose of convening a constituent assembly.” Finally, this second slogan evolved into a third and last slogan: “For the Duma as an organ of power which will convene the constituent assembly.” In spite of the protests of the Left-wing Social-Democrats, the Central Committee stuck to that slogan. On the question of slogans—utter confusion.

Another question: What form of struggle should be recommended? The Central Committee was primarily in favour of demonstration strikes. It wanted to call for an immediate strike, but found no support among any of the revolutionary parties and organisations. It then signed manifestoes calling for an uprising (the manifestoes: “To the Army and Navy” and “To All the Russian Peasants”). But after taking a step forward from the demonstration strike to the strike for an uprising, it took a hasty step backward and called for “partial mass expressions of protest”.

The third fundamental question: Who shall be our ally in the struggle? Which sections of bourgeois democracy can we depend upon, or which can we treat with preferably? With what parties or organisations should we seek an under standing? The Central Committee, as we have already seen, trimmed both its slogans and the forms of struggle recommended by it to suit the “Duma as a whole”, to suit the Cadets. But “drive nature out through the door and it will fly in through the window”! The Central Committee was compelled to sign manifestoes to the army, to the peasantry and “To the Whole People” in conjunction only with the revolutionary organisations, in conjunction only with the “Trudoviks” (from the wreckage of the Duma). In its arguments on tactics, the Central Committee, like all the Mensheviks, draws a line of demarcation between the Cadets and the Octobrists: “they”—are the Right, “we”—the Left (“we” and the Cadets). In its tactical calls to action, in its fighting manifestoes, the Central Committee draws a line of demarcation between the Cadets and the Trudoviks; the Cadets are placed either on the Right or among the neutrals in the struggle. It turns out then, that “we” means “we” and the Trudoviks, but without the Cadets. It turns out, then, that “we” are an information and co-ordination bureau for all the revolutionary organisations, including the “Committee of the Trudovik Group”, but without the Cadets. So it is a case of “a burning desire but a bitter fate”. The Social-Democrats of the Right have a burning desire to go hand in hand with the Cadets, but their fate is a bitter one, for the Cadets repudiate the fighting agreements that the course of events dictates.

Such, in its main features, is the factual history of Menshevik tactics after the dissolution of the Duma. This history is recorded in a small number of documents. Read the “Letters” (Nos. 4 and 5) of the Central Committee to the Party organisations, and the manifestoes “To the Army and Navy” (signed by the Social-Democratic Group in the Duma and by the Committee of the Trudovik Group); “To All the Russian Peasants” (signed by the Committee of the Trudovik Group, the Social-Democratic Group in the Duma, and the All-Russian Peasant Union, by the Central Committees of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party and the Social-Democratic Party, the All-Russian Railwaymen’s Union, and the All-Russian Teachers’ Union); “To the Whole People” (the same organisations, minus the three unions, but plus the Polish Socialist Party and the Bund); and lastly, read the protest of the three members of the Central Committee (published “for Party members only”[2]) and you will have all the material on the opportunist tactics of Social-Democrats since the dissolution of the Duma.

What is the sum and substance of this factual, external history of the Menshevik tactical directives? The sum and substance is clear: vacillation between the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie and the revolutionary bourgeois democrats. Indeed, what do the vacillations of the Central Committee on the question of the slogan amount to? To vacillation between the legal constitutional method as the exclusive, sole method (the slogan: “Resumption of the Duma sessions”), and recognition, or admission, of the revolutionary method (the “constituent assembly” slogan toned down by invariable association with the Duma). This is vacillation between the Cadets (who fully accept, and have accepted, the “resumption of sessions” slogan) and the revolutionary peasantry (the Trudoviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Peasant Union, the Railwaymen’s and Teachers’ unions, who in conjunction with the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party signed the call for an uprising in favour of a constituent assembly). Our Central Committee, or our opportunist Social-Democrats, are only a little to the left of the Cadets, and much to the right of the revolutionary bourgeois democrats. Such is the sum and substance of the vacillations of the Central Committee on the question of slogans, the form of struggle and the alignment of the political parties.

Throughout the Duma period, disagreement on tactics between the Right- and the Left-wing Social-Democrats be came more and more marked, and centred more and more around the main question of the line of demarcation in the ranks of the bourgeois democrats, or the question of whom we should ally ourselves with. The Right-wing Social-Democrats directed all their efforts towards forming an alliance with the Cadets (support of the Duma as a whole, sup port of the demand for a Duma Cabinet). The revolutionary Social-Democrats, on the contrary, directed their tactics towards winning over from the Cadets the revolutionary bourgeois democrats, towards liberating these elements from the yoke of the Cadets and uniting them with the proletariat for militant aims. The dissolution of the Duma was the upshot of the Duma period. And what happened? The Right wing Social-Democrats were forced to abandon the Cadets and join the revolutionary democrats. The only things of a Cadet nature that have remained are a few frills to their slogans. The circumstances compelled them to draw the line of demarcation exactly where the Left-wing Social-Democrats have always said it should be drawn. The inconsistency of the Central Committee’s slogans, their futility, became glaringly obvious.

III[edit source]

Let us now examine the arguments of the Central Commit tee. They are set out most fully in its fourth “letter to the Party organisations” (this letter is neither dated nor numbered, but the next letter is called the fifth). This letter is a truly remarkable specimen of opportunist thought: it deserves to be published over and over again and included in socialist readers and textbooks, as an object-lesson of how Social-Democrats should not discuss tactics.

The kernel of this letter is its analysis of a question which the authors themselves formulate as follows: “Into whose hands can power now pass?” And it goes on to say:

“Who at the present time is, or can be, in the eyes of the nation numbering 140,000,000, the natural successor to state power wrested from the tsarist government?... For when the popular movement for winning state power starts, the people must have a clear idea in their minds of who is to take the place of the overthrown government.... In every given period of the movement some association or organisation must, in the people’s mind, play such a role.”

We have underlined the places in the argument we have quoted which at once reveal their total fallacy. On the question of winning power, the Central Committee at once adopts the petty-bourgeois idealist and not the proletarian materialist point of view. It deduces “natural succession to power from the most widespread “idea” (“in the eyes” of the people), and not from the realities of the struggle. It fails to understand that the “natural successor” will not be the one who, in somebody’s “mind”, “plays such a role”, but the one who will really overthrow the government, who will really win power, who will be victorious in the struggle. The issue will not be decided by the “mind of the people”, but by the strength of the respective classes and elements of society.

Thus, the Central Committee immediately flies off at a tangent from the point at issue. Instead of examining the realities of the struggle, how it has been and is being waged, it starts speculating, in the worst idealist manner, about “mind” and the “idea” of who is “to take the place of the overthrown”, and not about who does the overthrowing and will achieve it. To arrive at these opportunist conclusions it was necessary to discard the whole Marxist method, a method that demands a study of the question: which interests of which classes demand that the government be overthrown, and which—demand that its power be limited; which material conditions give rise to a revolutionary struggle (“overthrow”) and which—give rise to efforts to arrange a constitutional co-habitation of the overthrown with the overthrowers. If the Central Committee had not forgotten the ABC of Marxism it might have considered, if only on the basis of the experience of the Russian revolution, which of the classes in our country are forced by the very course of events, often irrespective of their “mind” (and even in spite of their monarchist minds) to overthrow the governmental institutions which stand in their way. The history of the workers’ and peasants’ movement in twentieth-century Russia should have provided our Central Committee with enough examples of the partial and local overthrow of governmental institutions to enable them to conceive of the general and complete overthrow of the central government in a Marxist manner, and not à la Ledru-Rollin.

Having taken the wrong path, the Central Committee goes further and further astray in its arguments on this subject. It begins to enumerate all the possible and probable combinations in the composition of the “provisional revolutionary government”.

The Central Committee declares that the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, and likewise an Executive Committee composed of the Trudovik and Social-Democratic groups in the Duma, are unsuitable. The former would not receive the backing of the “hundred million peasants”; the latter would not receive the backing of “any considerable section of the urban petty bourgeoisie, the middle bourgeoisie, soldiers, Cossacks, officers, etc. It would be a very dangerous error, however, to think that a new state power could be established against the wish of all these elements.”

We suggest that the reader compare the first part of these arguments with the Bolshevik draft resolution on the provisional government (see Partiiniye Izvestia, No. 2, March 20, 1906, reprinted in Lenin’s Report on the Congress, p. 92[1] ).[3] This draft resolution precisely enumerates the organisations which actually played the role of organs of revolutionary power during the December uprising. In addition to the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, it mentions, of course, the soldiers’, railwaymen’s and peasants’ committees, and the elected rural bodies in the Caucasus and the Baltic Provinces. Thus, history has already provided an answer to the problem which the Central Committee is now so helplessly trying to solve. History has already shown which classes and which elements of the population take part in an uprising and create the organs for it. The opportunist Social-Democrats, however, not only forget (or fail to understand) the recent past of the revolution, but do not understand in general what a provisional revolutionary government is. Only a little reflection is needed to realise that such a government is the organ of an uprising (and not only the result of an uprising, as is mistakenly assumed in the Menshevik draft resolution on the provisional government—see the same Report, p. 91, or Partiiniye Izvestia, No. 2).

Further, the second part of the above-quoted argument is even more fallacious. It is based on the usual method of the opportunists: the attempt to prove that the most moderate slogan is the most reasonable one on the grounds that it serves to unite the largest number of social elements. Bernstein said: Social revolution is supported only by a section of the proletariat, whereas social reform is supported by many social-liberal elements. Do not be misled by the idea that socialism can be established against their wishes! It is better to become a party of democratic socialist reforms! The Mensheviks say: Only the proletariat and the revolutionary section of the petty bourgeoisie (primarily the peasants) are in favour of a real victory of our revolution. But “both the middle bourgeoisie and the army officers, etc.” are in favour of the limitation of the old monarchy as proposed by the liberals. Let us, therefore, call a deal between the liberals and the tsar a victory of the revolution, and, in stead of a really revolutionary government as the organ of an uprising, let us have the Duma!

No, comrades. There are things in political arithmetic a bit more complicated than simply adding up all the “opposition” elements. The addition of a vacillating and treacherous opposition to the actually fighting revolutionary elements does not always produce a plus, more often it proves to be a minus. Those whose interests compel them to strive for the limitation of the monarchy and to fear its downfall can never create a bold and vigorous organ of an uprising. To try in advance to fashion the future organ of an uprising to fit these Cadet elements would be the same as trying to fashion the social revolution in Europe to fit a Naumann or a Clemenceau.

What a comical contradiction our opportunists have landed themselves in! They want an alliance with the middle bourgeoisie and the army officers, in short, with the elements of the Cadet Party. But in that case they must entirely discard the “constituent assembly” slogan, for the Cadets are discarding it. To proclaim the “constituent assembly” slogan, which is unpalatable to the middle bourgeoisie and the army officers, and at the same time to try to attract them by foisting an ultra-revolutionary role on a moderate and loyal Duma (to overthrow the government and become a provisional revolutionary government!) —such are the depths of absurdity to which our Central Committee has descended.

Incidentally, as regards absurdities, the Central Committee’s letter contains even choicer gems. How do you like this one? “If, indeed, it is impossible, at the present moment, to put forward any other body than the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies as the instrument of power, then we can say in advance that the victory over the government in a struggle for power (and such a victory necessarily presupposes the participation of the army in the fight) would lead to nothing short of a military dictatorship of the army which had passed over ’to the side of the people’.” (The italics are in the original.)

Just ponder over this monstrous tirade: if the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies were to defeat the government with the aid of a section of the army, the army’s passing over “to the side of the people”[2] would lead to military dictatorship!! I doubt whether such attempts to intimidate us with the prospect of a victorious outcome of the struggle could be found even in Cadet literature. I doubt whether even Mr. Struve went quite so far in Osvobozhdeniye,[4] in the summer of 1905, and in Polyarnaya Zvezda,[5] in the spring of 1906, when he fulminated against the idea of an armed uprising as being a! to the idea of a military dictatorship. If the Central Committee had examined at least the ordinary demands of the soldiers and sailors during their innumerable “revolts” of the past year, it would have seen that these demands amount in fact to a demand that the caste-ridden army be converted into a people’s army, i.e., a militia. The soldiers and sailors were not always able to formulate the sub stance of their demands; indeed, in most cases they were unable to do so. But can anyone doubt that military service in the soldier’s home district and the right to hold meetings, etc., is equivalent to the establishment of a militia? Has the Central Committee lost its elementary revolutionary instinct to such an extent that it no longer sees the difference between the aristocratic revolutionary spirit of the Decembrists[6]–the raznochintsi’s[7] revolutionary spirit of the army officers in the Narodnaya Volya[8]—and the profoundly democratic, proletarian and peasant revolutionary spirit of the soldiers and sailors in twentieth-century Russia? Has it never been struck by the fundamental difference between the revolutionary spirit of the army officers in the days of the Narodnaya Volya, when almost complete apathy reigned in the ranks of the soldiers, and the reactionary spirit of the army officers today, when there is a mighty movement precisely among rank-and-file soldiers? Anyone who thinks that if the present-day Russian soldier or sailor goes over to the side of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies in the fight against the government it can serve as the transition to a military dictator ship—who thinks that this can be counteracted by winning over the army officers by means of the moderate slogan “for the Duma”—must either have lost all sense of reality, or have gone even more to the right than Struve & Co.! The Central Committee of the Social-Democratic Party wants to combat the strivings of the Russian soldiers toward a military dictatorship by winning over the officers: this is what the opportunists have brought us to!

The Central Committee tries to bolster up its hopeless case with the further argument that there is no need for us to invent a new government, as we have the Duma or, at any rate, remnants of it. These remnants “can declare them selves the State Duma”, while the “popular mind, unversed in the subtleties of a written constitution, regarded and still regards the State Duma as the organ of power.... If the troops, refusing to obey the tsarist government, could enter the service of the new government, that new government would be the State Duma.”

Splendid! If tomorrow the “popular mind” should regard another legal institution as “the government”, we must undertake to spread this prejudice. A fine understanding of the duties of a revolutionary party, indeed! Do try to under stand at last, dear comrades, that power must be taken by force, by fighting, by an uprising. Are the Cadets prepared to go so far? If so, they are welcome; we will reject no ally in this struggle. But if they are not prepared, if they are even afraid to make a direct call for an uprising (this, after all, is, if sincerely meant, the first step to real action, and of all the members of the Duma only the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks have taken it)—then all this talk about the Duma being an “organ of power which will convene a constituent assembly” is nothing but pernicious Manilovism[9] and a deception of the people.

If the political atmosphere had been different the remnants of the Duma would have acted differently, says the Central Committee in justification of the Cadets, who were scared even by the Vyborg Manifesto. Yes, it is true, they would have acted differently. What conclusion should be drawn from this? That we must strive to create that different atmosphere. By what means? By rousing the elements that are capable of fighting to revolutionary consciousness, by raising their consciousness to a level higher than that of the Cadets, higher than the level of Cadet slogans. But you justify the timidity of the Cadets with the plea that the atmosphere is non-revolutionary, and at the same time you make the atmosphere less revolutionary by substituting Cadet slogans for revolutionary ones!

IV[edit source]

The Central Committee’s practical conclusion in its famous fourth letter is as follows: “Local mass expressions of protest must be organised at once, everywhere.” Their object is described literally as follows: “To create an atmosphere of preparation for the impending decisive struggle.” ... Not to prepare for the impending decisive struggle, but to create an atmosphere of preparation!...

Our Party has already condemned and rejected this slogan of the Central Committee with rare unanimity. The ’Central Committee’s campaign for “partial mass expressions of protest” has already failed. The absurdity of demonstrating, of organising protests, in a situation in which civil war has attained unprecedented intensity, is too obvious. The resolutions adopted by a large number of Party commit tees and conferences[3] published in this issue show clearly enough what indignation has been roused by this slogan, as well as by the Central Committee’s whole policy since the dissolution of the Duma. We shall not, therefore, waste any more words on refuting a slogan that has already been refuted by facts and rejected by the Party. We need only note, firstly, the significance in principle of the Central Committee’s mistake, and, secondly, its awkward attempts in letter No. 5 to extricate itself from the impossible situation in which it found itself.

From the point of view of principle, the Central Committee’s mistake lies in its utter failure to understand the difference between a demonstration strike and a strike for an uprising. This is altogether unpardonable after the experience of December. It can only be explained if we take into account that in none of its letters has the Central Committee made any direct reference to an armed uprising. To evade any direct raising of the question of an uprising—such is the long-standing and constant striving of our opportunists, a striving that inevitably follows from their whole position. This striving explains why the Central Committee talks so persistently only about demonstration strikes, and says nothing about strikes for an uprising.

Having taken up such a position, the Central Committee could not avoid lagging behind all the other revolutionary organisations and parties. It could be said that everyone except the opportunist Social-Democrats has realised that the question of an uprising is bound to be raised. As was to be expected, the All-Russian Railwaymen’s Union has paid special attention to this question. (See its resolution and the report of the Bureau printed in this issue.[4]) It is clearly evident from a number of manifestoes signed by several revolutionary organisations (including the afore-mentioned manifestoes “To the Army and Navy”, “To All the Russian Peasants”, etc.). Our Central Committee seems to have signed these documents against its will, contrary to its convictions!

Indeed, it is utterly impossible to sign these appeals and yet fail to see the difference between demonstration strikes and strikes for an uprising. The Central Committee’s inconsistency, its likeness to a weathercock, is glaring: in its own declarations (letters No. 4 and No. 5) it does not say a word about an uprising; but when it collaborates with other revolutionary organisations it signs manifestoes calling for an uprising! When left to itself, our Central Committee inevitably lapses into a Cadet policy and expends all its energy devising slogans that would be acceptable or would seem to be acceptable to the Cadets. When marching in line with other revolutionary organisations, it “pulls itself together”, becomes ashamed of its Cadet slogans and behaves properly.

This is the first time that the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party finds itself in such an undignified position. For the first time it is being publicly led by others. For the first time it is in the rear. Our duty, the duty of all members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, is at all costs and as soon as possible to make sure that it is the first and last time.

The inability to understand the causes of the failure of the (last) July strike is wholly due to the above-mentioned mistake on a matter of principle. Anyone may make a mistake in fixing the moment for the struggle. We do not at all blame the Central Committee for that. But to mistake the character of an action, despite the warnings of a number of organisations in conjunction with which the Central Committee signed the calls for an uprising, that is unpardonable.

In its letter No. 5, the Central Committee embarks on a petty and trivial polemic against the Socialist-Revolutionaries (merely trying to prove that the representative of the Trudoviks argued more consistently than the Socialist-Revolutionary. What is the use of all this? Who is interested in it?), and expresses surprise that it was the advanced, class-conscious workers who failed to respond to the July strike call. The backward workers responded to that call, but the advanced workers did not! So the Central Committee is indignant, angry, almost abusive!

And yet, if the Central Committee had not taken up a fundamentally wrong position, had not disagreed in principle with the vanguard of the proletariat, it would have understood quite easily why this happened. The backward workers might not yet have known the difference between a demonstration strike and a strike for an uprising, but the advanced workers knew the difference very well. When there was some hope of being able to support the uprising in Sveaborg and Kronstadt—and there was such a moment—the declaration of a national strike was natural. But this, of course, would have been (and was) a strike, not with the object of protesting against the dissolution of the Duma (as the Central Committee imagined), but with the object of supporting the insurgents, of extending the uprising.

In a day or two, however, it became definitely clear that the uprising in Sveaborg and Kronstadt had been sup pressed on this occasion. A strike in support of the insurgents was out of place, and the progressive workers had all the time been opposed to protest strikes and demonstration strikes. They had been saying all along in the clearest and most emphatic language (and only our Central Committee contrived not to know, or not to understand it) that they would go into a general decisive battle, but on no account take part in a strike for the sake of a demonstration.

The failure of the July strike thus knocked the bottom, as it were, out of the tactics of the opportunist Social-Democrats. The idea of a demonstration strike fell through, utterly and entirely. The slogan of “partial mass expressions of protest” suffered the same fate.

But to anyone with the slightest knowledge of the mood of the workers in the main centres of Russia, to anyone who has watched what is now going on among the peasantry, it is quite clear that the idea of the strike for an uprising and the slogan of preparing for an uprising, far from losing their importance or clarity, are, on the contrary, everywhere maturing and gaining strength.

V[edit source]

Let us now sum up our brief analysis of the Menshevik tactics during the critical days after the dissolution of the Duma.

Throughout the Duma period the Mensheviks advocated support of the Duma as a whole, support of the Cadets (under the guise of supporting the demand for the appointment of a Duma Cabinet). The Bolsheviks did their utmost to split the Trudoviks from the Cadets, and supported the idea of forming “an Executive Committee of the Left groups in the Duma

Whose tactics have proved right now, after the dissolution of the Duma? In conjunction with the Cadets, it was found possible to issue only the timid Vyborg Manifesto. The Cadets as a party did not support it; they did not participate in party agitation in support of it, nor did they pursue any further activities on those lines. Even our Mensheviks at once admitted that this Manifesto was inadequate. The timid Vyborg Manifesto was followed by others, bolder and more definite. The amalgamation of some of the individual ex-members of the Duma was followed by the amalgamation of the “committees” of two Duma groups, which signed a number of manifestoes and took part in a number of revolutionary conferences, and agreed to a war council of the revolution.

What were these two groups which, as groups, as collective bodies, survived the débâcle of the Duma, which did not lose their heads because the “constitutional” ground had slipped from under their feet?

They were the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks. The “Executive Committee of the Left groups”, advocated by the Bolsheviks, who supported the idea of forming a committee of that kind, has come into being. The Trudovik Group begot a new revolutionary organisation which has new ties with the peasantry; as for the Cadets, they are now politically dead, just as the Bolsheviks predicted, emphasising that “maggots are found near corpses, not near living people”.[5]

The fighting agreement between the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc., has now be come a fact, documented by the above-mentioned leaflets. We lost, and lost a great deal, of course, only because we started late in the day, because we had not thought matters out earlier, had not prepared the ground gradually, as the Bolsheviks recommended long ago, in their draft resolution at the Unity Congress.

Volentem ducunt fata, nolentem trahunt—which may be translated approximately as follows: the wise politician keeps ahead of events, the unwise is led by them. The Bolsheviks have been insisting for months past, if not for a whole year, that fighting agreements with the revolutionary democrats were inevitable; they have been insisting on the importance of a fighting alliance between the proletariat and the advanced peasantry in particular. The dissolution of the Duma compelled us to adopt such a course; but the Mensheviks, as we have already shown in our analysis of all the episodes of the Central Committee’s tactics, turned out to be unprepared, were “led” to it against their will and contrary to their convictions by the “unexpected” turn of events.

Take the question of an uprising. The Mensheviks did everything to “burke” it. At the Unity Congress they even passed a resolution against an armed uprising. Even now they say nothing about an uprising in “letters” No. 4 and No. 5, which the Central Committee wrote without the bid ding of other revolutionary organisations. But when it writes anything jointly with them, and at their bidding, we read direct and resolute calls for an uprising. Then the slogans, too, are revolutionary. Then not a word is said about resuming the sessions of the Duma, or even about convening a constituent assembly through the medium of the Duma. On the contrary, we read the following (the manifesto “To the Whole People”): “Not an impotent Duma, but a constituent assembly with full power, on the basis of universal, etc., suffrage, this is the goal the people must strive to achieve. Not the tsar’s Ministers, but a power backed by the revolutionary people must convene this assembly” (our italics). This is the emphatic language our Central Committee uses when in the company of petty-bourgeois revolutionaries, such as the Committee of the Trudovik Group and the Polish Socialist Party!

Lastly, take the question of a provisional revolutionary government. For eighteen months our Mensheviks, headed by Plekhanov, have been arguing that Social-Democrats cannot participate in such a government jointly with bourgeois revolutionaries, and that it is Blanquism, Jacobinism, and all the other mortal sins to issue a slogan in favour of establishing a provisional revolutionary government.

And what happened? The Duma was dissolved, and the Central Committee was compelled to raise this very question of a provisional revolutionary government and of how it is to be constituted. Its complete unpreparedness for the question is apparent: it does not even understand that a provisional revolutionary government is the organ of an uprising. The Central Committee proposes that the remnants of the Duma, i.e., the Social-Democrats, the Trudoviks and some of the Cadets, be proclaimed a provisional revolutionary government. But look, comrades, see what all this amounts to: You are in fact inviting the socialists to take part in a provisional revolutionary government jointly with bourgeois revolutionaries! And you do this in spite of the fact that in the company of the Trudoviks and Left Cadets the Social-Democrats will form a negligible minority! Alas, alas! The doctrinaire talk about it being wrong for Social-Democrats to participate in a provisional government jointly with bourgeois revolutionaries evaporates at the first contact with reality. All the far-fetched arguments used to justify this wrong decision with the aid of false references to Marx vanish like smoke. Moreover, in addition to the bourgeois revolutionaries (the Trudoviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Polish Socialist Party, sections of the Peasant, Railwaymen’s and Teachers’ unions), our “strict” pseudo-Marxists intend, by fair means or foul, to drag into the future provisional government the bourgeois compromisers (the Cadets)!

Well, it is hard to imagine a more complete fiasco for opportunist tactics than that suffered by our Central Committee after the dissolution of the Duma. We must pull our Party out of this mire before it is too late.

  1. Oko (The Eye)—a liberal-bourgeois daily newspaper of a Cadet tendency published in St. Petersburg from August 6 (19) to Octo ber 31 (November 13), 1906, instead of the previous successively published newspapers Bus, Molva (Hearsay) and Dvadtsaty Vek (The Twentieth Century).
  2. Lenin is referring to the statement of the Bolshevik section of the Central Committee of July 20 (August 2), 1906, printed as a separate leaflet entitled “Statement of Three Central Committee Members in the Central Committee of the RSDLP” and in the pamphlet “Did the Party Have a Central Committee in 1906-07?”
  3. This refers to the resolutions of the Kursk, Kaluga and Moscow district committees of the RSDLP, the Regional Bureau of the Central District and the Kostroma Party Conference held on July 25 (August 7), 1906.
  4. This refers to the railwaymen’s conference convened in August 1906 on the question of a general strike in connection with the dissolution of the First State Duma.
    The conference was attended by delegates of workers and employees of 23 railways and representatives of the Central Bureau of the All-Russian Railwaymen’s Union, the Trudovik Group, the Central Committee of the RSDLP, the Bund, the Central Committee of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and others. The resolution adopted by the conference pointed out: “The impending general strike will be an offensive of the popular forces that must wrest power from the hands of the autocratic government”.
  5. See present edition, Vol. 10, p. 264.—Ed.