The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers' Party
|Written||24 March 1906|
Published in pamphlet form in April 1906 by Nasha Mysl Publishers. Published according to the pamphlet text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 10, pages 199-276.
I. What Was the Objective Significance of Our Participation in the Duma Elections?[edit source]
The Cadets’ victories have turned the head of our liberal press. In the course of the election campaign the Cadets succeeded in rallying all, or nearly all, the liberals. News papers which hitherto had not been associated with the Cadet Party have in effect become the organs of that party. The liberal press is overjoyed. On all sides we hear cries of exultation and threats addressed to the government. And a very characteristic circumstance is that these cries are constantly intermingled with sometimes malicious and some times condescending digs at the Social-Democrats.
Look what a mistake you made by keeping out of the elections! Now you see it, don’t you? You will admit that you were mistaken, won’t you? Now you appreciate the advice of the wise and far-sighted Plekhanov, don’t you?—These and similar utterances may be read in the columns of the liberal press, bubbling over with elation. Comrade Stepanov (in his article “From Afar”, in the symposium The Present Situation) has very aptly remarked that Plekhanov’s present experience is something like what happened to Bernstein. Just as Bernstein was once carried shoulder-high by the German liberals, and lauded to the skies by all the “progressive” bourgeois newspapers, so today there is not a liberal news paper in Russia, or even a liberal newspaper article (even Slovo, yes, even the Octobrist Slovo!) that does not embrace and kiss and fondle the wise and far-sighted, reasonable and sober-minded Plekhanov, who had the courage to rise in arms against the boycott.
Let us, then, see what the victories of the Cadets have proved. Whose mistake have they revealed? Whose tactics have they proved to be barren?
Plekhanov, Struve and Co. keep on telling us that the boycott was a mistake. Why the Cadets should think so is quite clear. Their proposal to secure the election to the Duma of one working man from Moscow (see Nasha Zhizn, March 23) shows that the Cadets appreciate the assistance of the workers, that they desire to strike a bargain with the Social-Democrats in order to round off and consolidate their victory, and that they are just as ready to strike such a bargain with the non-party workers as with the Social-Democratic Party. That the Cadets should abhor the boycott is quite natural, for it implies refusal to support them, the Cadets, refusal of the “Left” to strike a bargain with them, the Cadets.
But what does Plekhanov want—and the Mensheviks, or our Russian anti-boycott Social-Democrats, who gravitate towards him (some unwittingly and others wittingly)? Alas, alas! Plekhanov, the boldest of them all, the one who most consistently,most freely and most clearly expounds his views, shows again and again, in the fifth issue of his Dnevnik, that he does not know what he wants. We must take part in the elections, he shouts. What for? To organise revolutionary local self-government, as advocated by the Mensheviks? Or in order to go into the Duma?
Plekhanov twists and turns and wriggles, and resorts to sophistry to avoid answering these plain, blunt and clear questions. After remaining silent for months and months when the Mensheviks, in the columns of Iskra, were already advocating revolutionary local self-government (and when he was unequivocally signifying his sympathy with the Mensheviks’ tactics), Plekhanov now suddenly hurls a most contemptuous phrase at this “celebrated revolutionary local self-government” of the Mensheviks. Why and how celebrated, Comrade Plekhanov? Was it not the very Bolsheviks whom Plekhanov now wants to fight, and who long ago proved that this slogan was inadequate, indefinite and half hearted, that helped to make it “celebrated”?
No reply. Plekhanov explains nothing. He pronounces his dictum like an oracle and passes on. But the difference between an oracle and Plekhanov is that an oracle predicts events, whereas Plekhanov pronounces his dictum after the event; he brings in the mustard when the meal is over. When, before the October revolution, before the December uprising, before the revolutionary upsurge, the Mensheviks were talking about “revolutionary local self-government”, Plekhanov was silent, although he approved of the Mensheviks’ tactics in general; he was silent, as if waiting in bewilderment, not daring to make up his mind. Now, when the revolutionary tide has ebbed, when the “days of freedom” and the days of insurrection are past, when all the various Soviets of workers’, soldiers’, railwaymen’s and other deputies have left the scene (Soviets which the Mensheviks thought were organs of revolutionary local self-government, and which the Bolsheviks regarded as rudimentary, disconnected, spontaneous and therefore impotent organs of revolutionary state power)—in short, when the question has lost its acuteness, when the meal has been consumed, Plekhanov comes along with the mustard; he displays that wisdom and far-sightedness concerning yesterday that Messrs. Struve and Co. admire so much.
Why Comrade Plekhanov is displeased with revolutionary local self-government remains a secret. Plekhanov now agrees with the Bolsheviks that revolutionary local self-government “confuses” a lot of people (Dnevnik, No. 5); but by all appearances, Plekhanov thinks that this slogan is too radical, whereas the Bolsheviks think it too moderate. Plekhanov thinks that this slogan goes too far, whereas we think that it does not go far enough. What Plekhanov wants is to draw the Mensheviks away from this idea of “revolutionary local self-government” to sober, practical work in the Duma. We, however, want—and not only want,but consciously and distinctly call for—a step forward from the idea of revolutionary local self-government to recognition of the necessity for systematically setting up integral, methodical and dynamic organs of insurrection, organs of revolutionary power. For all practical purposes, Plekhanov shelves the slogan of insurrection (although he dares not say so openly and definitely); it is therefore quite natural that he should also reject the slogan of revolutionary self-government, which without an insurrection, and unconnected with an insurrectionary situation, would be ridiculous and harmful make-believe. Plekhanov is slightly more consistent than his fellow-thinkers, the Mensheviks.
And so, why should we after all take part in the elections, Comrade Plekhanov, and how? Not for the sake of revolutionary local self-government, which only “confuses” people. To participate in the Duma, then? But here Plekhanov is overcome with timidity. He does not want to reply. But as n+1 comrades in Russia desire to do something definite among the masses of the workers, and not merely “do the reading” of the diaries of an author who “does the writing”, and as these n+1 pestering correspondents demand a specific reply, Plekhanov loses his temper. It is difficult to imagine anything more helpless and more curious than his angry statement that it would be pedantic, formalistic, etc., to expect the voters to know what they are voting for, and why. But dear Comrade Plekhanov! Your friends the Cadets, and our workers as well, will simply laugh you out of court if you come before the masses and seriously begin to advocate this magnificent programme: take part in the elections; vote; but don’t ask what you are voting for, or why. Vote on the basis of the Duma election law; but don’t dare think (that would be pedantic and formalistic) that you are voting for candidates for the Duma.
Why has Comrade Plekhanov, who was once able to write clearly and give specific answers, become so obviously muddled? Because, having wrongly appraised the December uprising, he has formed a totally wrong notion of the present political situation. He finds himself in a position where he does not dare to think out his ideas to their logical conclusion; he is afraid to face realities squarely.
But the unvarnished realities of the “Duma campaign” are now clear to everyone. Facts have now answered the question what was the objective significance of the elections and of participating in them, irrespective of the will, consciousness, speeches and promises of those participating in them. The very reason why Comrade Plekhanov, the most determined of Mensheviks, dare not declare straight forwardly for participating in the Duma elections is that it is now perfectly clear what this participation means. Participation in the elections means either supporting the Cadets and striking a bargain with them, or playing at elections. The very facts of life have proved this. In No. 5 of his Dnevnik Plekhanov was compelled to admit the correctness of the second half of this argument; he was compelled to admit that the slogan of “revolutionary local self-government” is absurd. In No. 6 of his Dnevnik, Plekhanov will be compelled, unless he refuses to consider the issue on its merits, to admit that the first half is also correct.
Political realities have utterly shattered the Mensheviks’ tactics, the tactics they advocated in their “platform” (the hectographed leaflet mentioning the names of Martov and Dan, issued in St. Petersburg at the end of 1905 or beginning of 1906) and in their printed statements (the Bulletin of the Joint Central Committee outlining the tactics of both sides, and Dan’s article in a certain pamphlet). These tactics were to participate in the elections, but not to elect members of the Duma. We repeat, not a single more or less prominent Menshevik dared even hint in the press that we should go into the Duma. And it is these “pure” Menshevik tactics that the facts of life have completely shattered. It is hardly possible now to so much as talk seriously about participating in the elections for the sake of “revolutionary local self-government”, of withdrawing from the gubernia election meetings, etc. Events have shown very, clearly that such playing at elections, at parliamentarism, can only compromise Social-Democracy, can only result in disgrace and scandal, and nothing else.
If any further confirmation of this is required, it is provided most strikingly by the Moscow Regional Committee of our Party. This is an amalgamated organisation, consisting of the Majority and Minority factions. The tactics it adopted were also “amalgamated”, i.e., they were at least half Menshevik tactics, namely, to take part in the election of delegates for the purpose of consolidating Social-Democratic influence in the workers’ curia, and then to wreck the elections by refusing to elect the electors. This was an attempt to repeat the tactics adopted towards the Shidlovsky Commission. It was the “first step” on the lines recommended by Comrade Plekhanov: we will take part in the elections, and go into the matter more thoroughly afterwards.
As was to be expected, the Menshevik-Plekhanov tactics of the Moscow Regional Committee ended in a complete fiasco. The delegates were elected, among them Social-Democrats and even members of the organisation. Then came the anti-boycott law. The delegates found themselves on the horns of a dilemma: either to go to prison for agitating in favour of the boycott, or elect the electors. The Regional Committee, like all our Party organisations, conducts its agitation underground, and so it proved unable to cope with the forces it had set in motion. The delegates broke their promise, they tore up their imperative mandates and— elected the electors. Among those elected were also Social— Democrats, and even members of the organisation.
This writer witnessed a very painful scene during the meeting of the Moscow Regional Committee, when that leading Social-Democratic organisation discussed what was to be done after the failure of the (Plekhanov) tactics. The failure of the tactics was so obvious that not a single Menshevik member of the Committee spoke in favour of the electors participating in the gubernia election meeting, or of revolutionary local self-government, or anything of the sort. On the other hand, it was difficult to decide to impose any penalty on the worker delegates who had acted contrary to their mandates. The Committee could do nothing but wash its hands of the situation, and tacitly confess that it had blundered.
Such was the result of the Plekhanov tactics of voting without carefully considering (without even desiring to think carefully, without desiring to think at all: see Dnevnik, No. 5) what we were to vote for, and why. At the first impact with reality the Menshevik “tactics” were shattered; and this is not surprising, for these “tactics” (participation in the elections, but not in order to elect) consisted entirely of good words and good intentions. The intentions remained intentions and the words, words; but what actually occurred was dictated by the inexorable logic of the objective political situation: either elect in order to support the Cadets, or play at elections. Thus events have fully borne out what I wrote in my article, “The State Duma and Social-Democratic Tactics”: “We may declare that our Social-Democratic candidates are completely and absolutely independent, and that we are participating in the elections on the strictest possible Party lines: but the political situation is more potent than any number of declarations. Things will not, and cannot, turn out in keeping with these declarations. Whether we like it or not, if we participate now in the present Duma elections, the result will inevitably be neither Social-Democratic nor workers’ party policy” (p. 5).
Let the Mensheviks or the Plekhanovites try to refute this conclusion—not by words but by deeds, by facts. After all, every local organisation of our Party is now autonomous as far as tactics are concerned. How is it that nothing good and practical has come of Menshevik tactics anywhere in Russia? Why has not the Moscow group of the RSDLP, which is a Menshevik group and not amalgamated with the Bolshevik Committee, drawn up a “Plekhanov” plan of campaign, or one of its own, for the elections that are to take place in Moscow the day after tomorrow, on Sunday, March 26? Not because it did not want to, of course. And, I am sure, not because it did not know how. It was because the objective political situation dictated either boycott, or support for the Cadets. Now among the electors elected for Moscow Gubernia there are Social-Democrats. The results of the elections are quite definite. The gubernia election meeting. will not be held yet awhile. There is still time, Comrade Plekhanov. There is still time, Menshevik comrades! Why don’t you advise these electors what to do? Show them, at least for once, that you have tactics for an event and not after it. Should these electors simply walk out of the gubernia election meeting? Or should they walk out and form a revolutionary local self-government? Or should they hand in blank ballot papers? Or, lastly, should they vote for candidates for the Duma, and if so, for whom? For their own Social-Democratic candidates, for the sake of a futile and hopeless hole-and-corner demonstration? And lastly, the main question that you, Menshevik comrades and Comrade Plekhanov, must answer is: What are these electors to do if their votes are to decide whether the Cadets or Octobrists are to be elected? If, for example, the Cadets have A minus 1 electors, the Octobrists have A, and there are two Social-Democratic electors? To abstain would mean helping the Octobrists to defeat the Cadets! Thus, the only course open is to vote for the Cadets and to beg the latter to leave you a seat in the Duma as a reward for that service.
This is by no means an imaginary conclusion. Nor is it a polemical dig at the Mensheviks. It is a conclusion drawn from reality. The participation of the workers and of the Social-Democrats in the elections leads to this in practice, and only to this. The Cadets rightly took into account what happened in St. Petersburg, where the non-party worker ten ants voted for them to prevent the Octobrists from winning. Taking this into account, they made a forthright offer to the Moscow workers: support us and we will get one of your electors into the Duma. The Cadets appreciated the real significance of Plekhanov’s tactics better than Plekhanov himself. By their proposal they anticipated the inevitable political result of the elections. If Social-Democratic worker electors had been in the place of the non-party worker electors, they would have been confronted with the same dilemma: either retire from the elections, and thus help the Black Hundreds; or enter into a direct or indirect agreement or deal, tacit or written, with the Cadets.
0 yes, it is not for nothing that the Cadets are now smothering Plekhanov in their embraces! And the price of these embraces is obvious. Do ut des, as the Latin saying has it: give and take. I embrace you because you, by your advice, are getting me extra votes. True, that may not have been your intention; you have even been ashamed to confess publicly that we have embraced you. You tried by fair means and foul (particularly by foul!) to get away from answering the questions that too importunately, too closely probed into the details of our love match. But it is not what you want, not what you think, not your good (from the Social-Democratic standpoint) intentions that count. What counts are the results—and those are in our favour.
The Cadets’ interpretation of Plekhanov’s tactics is correct. That is why they obtain the results they desire: the workers’ votes, a deal with the workers, and involvement of the workers in joint responsibility with the Cadets for a Cadet Duma, for the Cadet policy.
Plekhanov’s interpretation of the tactics he proposes is wrong. That is why his good intentions merely pave the way to hell. Social-Democratic election agitation among the masses, organisation of the masses, mobilisation of the masses around the Social-Democrats, and so on, and so forth (see the rhetoric of Dan, Plekhanov’s fellow-thinker, in his pamphlet), all remain a dead letter. Much as some of us may desire these things, objective conditions are against them. We do not succeed in unfurling the banner of Social-Democracy before the masses (remember the case of the Moscow Regional Committee); it is impossible to transform an underground organisation into a legal one; the helm is wrenched from the powerless steersman who has been flung into the quasi-parliamentary torrent without proper equipment. What we actually get is not a Social-Democratic, not a workers’ party policy, but a Cadet labour policy.
But your boycott has proved absolutely useless and impotent, the Cadets shout at us from all sides. The workers who wanted to make a laughing-stock of the Duma and of us Cadets, by their example of a boycott, the workers who elected a dummy to the Duma, were very clearly mistaken! The Duma will not be a dummy, but a Cadet Duma!
Have a heart, gentlemen! You are naive, or pretending to be naïve. If the Duma turns out to be a Cadet Duma, the situation will be different; but the Duma will be a dummy all the same. The workers were guided by a wonder fully sensitive class instinct when, by their matchless demonstration of voting for a dummy, they symbolised the future Duma, warned credulous people, and disclaimed all responsibility for playing at dummies.
You don’t understand that? Let us explain it to you.
II. The Social and Political Significance of the First Elections[edit source]
The first political elections in Russia have very important political and social significance. But the Cadets, intoxicated by their victory, and totally submerged in constitutional illusions, are absolutely incapable of understanding the real significance of these elections.
First of all, let us see what class elements are grouped around the Cadets. On this question the elections provide highly instructive and valuable evidence, which is still far, very far, from being complete, however. Nevertheless, it already reveals some things that are worthy of special attention. The following are the returns of the election of electors up to March 18, i.e., before the elections in St. Petersburg. We have taken the figures from Russkiye Vedomosti.
|Number of electors elected by meetings of:|
|Political trend||City voters||Landowners||Total|
|Lefts . . . . . . .||268||128||396|
|Rights . . . . . .||118||172||290|
|Non-party . . . . .||101||178||279|
|Total . . .||487||478||965|
Scanty as these figures are, they nevertheless show (and the St. Petersburg elections merely serve to confirm it) that the Russian liberation movement in general, and the Cadet Party in particular, is undergoing a social evolution. The centre of this movement is steadily shifting to the cities. The movement is becoming democratised. The “small fry” among the townspeople are coming to the forefront.
Among the landowners, the Rights predominate (if we assume that the non-party electors are evenly divided between the Lefts and the Rights, an assumption which, if any thing, errs on the side of pessimism rather than of optimism). Among the city voters, the Lefts predominate to a far greater extent.
The landlords have deserted the Cadets for the Union of October Seventeenth and other similar parties. On the other hand, the petty bourgeoisie, or at any rate, the urban petty bourgeoisie (no figures are yet available for the rural petty bourgeoisie, and it will be more difficult to obtain them before the Duma elections), is clearly coming into the political arena, and is clearly turning towards democracy. In the bourgeois liberation (and Osvobozhdeniye) movement of Zemstvo congresses, the landlords predominated; but the peasant revolts and the October revolution have now thrown back a large section of them definitely to the side of the counter-revolution. The Cadet Party remains a dual party— in it we see both urban petty bourgeoisie and liberal land lords: but the latter, apparently, are already a minority in the party. The petty-bourgeois democrats predominate.
Thus, with a large margin of probability, almost with certainty, we can draw the following two conclusions: first, that the petty bourgeoisie is taking shape politically, and is definitely opposing the government; second, that the Cadet Party is becoming the “Parliamentary” party of the petty-bourgeois democrats.
These two conclusions are not identical, as might appear at first sight. The second is much narrower than the first, for the Cadet Party does not comprise all the petty-bourgeois democratic elements, and moreover, it is only a “parliamentary” (i.e., of course, a quasi-parliamentary, mock-parliamentary) party. As for the significance of the St. Petersburg elections, there is an astonishing agreement among all witnesses; beginning with the pert Rus, which is flirting with radicalism, continuing with Mr. Nabokov, member of the Central Committee of the Cadet Party and candidate for the Duma, and ending with Novoye Vremya. All agree that the election returns are not so much a vote for the Cadets as a vote against the government. The Cadets achieved their victory largely because they were (thanks to Durnovo and Co.) the most extreme Left party in the field. The genuinely Left parties were kept out of the field by violence, arrests, massacres, the election law, and so forth. By the very force of circumstances, by the logic of the election struggle, all the discontented, irritated, angry and vaguely revolutionary elements were compelled to rally around the Cadets. The combination of all the progressive electors with the Cadets that we made in the table given above is a reflection of what actually took place. Virtually there were two big forces contending: one for the government (the counter-revolutionary landlords, the capitalists, and the dehumanised officials), and the other against the government (the liberal landlords, the petty bourgeoisie, and all the vaguely revolutionary-democratic elements). That elements to the left of the Cadets voted for the latter is a fact that stands out beyond doubt from the general picture of the St. Peters burg elections ; it is confirmed by the direct evidence of numerous witnesses (the fact that the “common people” voted for “freedom”, and so on, and so forth), and it is borne out indirectly by the swing to the Cadet camp of the whole of the democratic press that stands slightly to the left of the Cadet press. Thus, while the core of the present Cadet Party consists of people who are certainly good for nothing better than toy-parliament oratory, this cannot be said about the bulk of the petty-bourgeois voters who voted for the Cadets. “Virtually, our experience is the same as that of the Social-Democrats during elections in Germany,” said a Cadet to the reporter of the Cadet (or semi-Cadet) Nasha Zhizn (No. 401, March 23). “Many people vote for them because they are the party most strongly opposed to the government.”
This is very true, but a tiny little thing must be added: the German Social-Democratic Party, being a militant and advanced socialist party in the fullest sense of the word, groups around itself many relatively backward elements. But the Russian Cadets, who in the fullest sense of the word are a backward and not a militant, democratic party, have carried with them many advanced and potentially militant democratic elements because the genuinely democratic parties have been forcibly removed from the battlefield. In other words, the German Social-Democratic Party carries with it those who trail behind it; whereas the Russian Cadets themselves trail behind the democratic revolution and can carry with them many advanced people only when most of those who march in front of them are inmates of prisons or are lying in their graves. We say this in passing lest our Cadets get above themselves on account of this comparison with the German Social-Democrats.
Owing to the elimination of the advanced democratic elements from the scene of this toy-parliament struggle, and so long as they are kept out of it, the Cadets, naturally, have a chance of gaining control of the toy parliament that goes by the name of the Russian State Duma. If we take the above-quoted figures, bear in mind the St. Petersburg and later victories of the Cadets, roughly estimate the enormous predominance of rural electors over urban, and add the peasant electors to the landowner electors, we shall have to admit that, on the whole, it is quite possible, and even probable, that the Duma will be a Cadet Duma.
III. What is the Party of People’s Freedom?[edit source]
What role, then, can and must a Cadet Duma play? To answer this question, we must first of all examine in greater detail the character of the Cadet Party itself.
We have already noted the main feature of the class structure of this party. Unconnected with any one particular class in bourgeois society, but absolutely bourgeois in composition, character and ideals, this party is wavering between the democratic petty bourgeoisie and the counter revolutionary elements of the big bourgeoisie. The social basis of this party consists, first, of the masses of the towns people, the very townspeople who eagerly built barricades in Moscow in the famous December days; secondly, it consists of the liberal landlords who want to come to a deal with the autocracy, through the good offices of pro-liberal officials, for an “inoffensive” division of power between the people and those who by the grace of God oppress the people. This extremely broad, indefinite and inherently contradictory class basis (which, as has been noted above, is clearly discernible in the figures regarding the Cadet electors) is reflected with remarkable vividness in the Cadets’ programme and tactics. Their programme is entirely bourgeois; the Cadets simply cannot conceive of a social system other than capitalism, beyond which even their boldest suggestions do not go. In politics, their programme combines democracy, “people’s freedom”, with counter-revolution, with the freedom of the autocracy to oppress the people; and it combines them with particularly petty-bourgeois and professorial-pedantic scrupulousness. The Cadet’s ideal is that power in the state should be divided into approximately three parts. One part goes to the autocracy. The monarchy remains. The monarch retains equal power with the popular representative body, which is to “agree” with him on the laws to be passed, and submit its bills to him for approval. The second part goes to the landlords and the big capitalists. They get the Upper Chamber, from which the “common people” are to be barred by a two-stage electoral system and a residential qualification. Lastly, the third part goes to the people, who get a Lower Chamber elected on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot. Why fight, why this internecine strife? wails Judas Cadet, lifting up his eyes and reproachfully glancing, now towards the revolutionary people, now towards the counter-revolutionary government. Brothers! Love one another! Let the wolves have their fill without any harm to the sheep, let the monarchy with its Up per Chamber be inviolate and “people’s freedom” as sured.
The hypocrisy underlying these Cadet principles is most glaring, and the fallacies of the “scientific” (professorially-scientific) arguments with which they are defended are amazing. It would be a great mistake, of course, to attribute this hypocrisy and these fallacies to the personal qualities of the Cadet leaders, or of individual Cadets. Such a vulgar explanation, which our opponents often attribute to us, is repugnant to Marxism. Undoubtedly, there are many most sincere Cadets who really believe that their party stands for “people’s freedom”. But the dual and vacillating class basis of their party inevitably engenders their double faced policy, their fallacies, and their hypocrisy.
These amiable features stand out even more clearly, perhaps, in the Cadets’ tactics than in their programme. Polyarnaya Zvezda, in which Mr. Struve has so sedulously and successfully merged Cadetism with Novoye Vremya-ism, has given us an excellent, magnificent and inimitable example of Cadet tactics. At the moment when the firing in Moscow was subsiding, and when the military and police dictatorship was indulging in its savage orgies, when repressions and mass torture were raging all over Russia, Polyarnaya Zvezda protested against the use of force by the Lefts, and against the strike committees organised by the revolutionary parties. The Cadet professors who are trading in their science for the benefit of the Dubasovs went to the length (like Mr. Kiesewetter, member of the Central Commit tee of the Cadet Party and candidate for the Duma) of translating the word “dictatorship” by the words “reinforced security”! These “men of science” even distorted their high-school Latin in order to discredit the revolutionary struggle. Please note once and for all, Messrs. Kiesewetter, Struve, Izgoyev and Co., that dictatorship means unlimited power based on force, and not on law. In civil war, any victorious power can only be a dictatorship. The point is, however, that there is the dictatorship of a minority over the majority, the dictatorship of a handful of police officials over the people; and there is the dictatorship of the overwhelming majority of the people over a handful of tyrants, robbers and usurpers of people’s power. By their vulgar distortion of the scientific concept “dictatorship”, by their out cries against the violence of the Left at a time when the Right are resorting to the most lawless and outrageous violence, the Cadet gentlemen have given striking evidence of the position the “compromisers” take in the intense revolutionary struggle. When the struggle flares up, the “compromiser” cravenly runs for cover. When the revolutionary people are victorious (October 17), the “compromiser” creeps out of his hiding-place, boastfully preens himself, shouting and raving until he is hoarse: “That was a ’glorious’ political strike!” But when victory goes to the counter-revolution, the compromiser begins to heap hypocritical admonitions and edifying counsel on the vanquished. The successful strike was “glorious”. The defeated strikes were criminal, mad, senseless, and anarchistic. The defeated insurrection was folly, a riot of surging elements, barbarity and stupidity. In short, his political conscience and political wisdom prompt the “compromiser” to cringe be fore the side that for the moment is strongest, to get in the way of the combatants, hindering first one side and then the other, to tone down the struggle and to blunt the revolutionary consciousness of the people who are waging a desperate struggle for freedom.
The peasants are fighting against landlordism, and this struggle is now reaching its climax. It has become so acute that the issue is put squarely: the landlords are demanding machine-guns in reply to the slightest attempt of the peas ants to seize the land that the nobles have been grabbing for centuries. The peasants want to take all the land. If they attempt it, Polyarnaya Zvezda, with an unctuous excuse, will send the Kaufmans into the field to prove that the land lords haven’t very much land: that, strictly speaking, it is not the land that is the cause of the trouble, and that every thing can be settled peacefully.
The resolution on tactics adopted by the last Cadet congress very well sums up the Cadets’ political chicanery. After the December uprising, when it had become perfectly obvious to everybody that the peaceful strike was obsolete, that it had spent itself and become useless as an in dependent weapon in the struggle, the Cadet congress came along with a resolution (proposed, I think, by Mr. Vinaver) which recognised the peaceful political strike as a weapon in the struggle!
This is magnificent, matchless, Cadet gentlemen. You have assimilated the spirit and meaning of bourgeois political chicanery with inimitable facility. The bourgeoisie must seek the support of the people; without it, it will never achieve power, and has never done so. But at the same time it must restrain the revolutionary onslaught of the people to prevent the workers and peasants from winning— God forbid—complete and consistent democracy, genuine, and not monarchist and “two-Chamber”, freedom for the people. That is why it must throw a spoke in the wheel of the revolution every time it is winning. And for this purpose every means, every device, must be brought into play—from the “scientific” distortion of Latin by “professors” to discredit the very idea of the people achieving a decisive victory, to, say, recognising only such weapons in the revolutionary struggle as are already obsolete at the time when you recognise them! This is both harmless and advantageous. Harmless, because blunted weapons obviously cannot bring the people victory, will not put the proletariat and the peasantry in power; at best, they will shake the autocracy a little and help the Cadets to bargain for an extra bit of “rights” for the bourgeoisie. It is advantageous because on the surface it creates the impression that the Cadets are “revolutionary”, that they sympathise with the people’s struggle, and this wins them the support of large numbers who sincerely and earnestly want the revolution to win.
The very essence of the economic condition of the petty bourgeoisie, wavering between capital and labour, inevitably engenders the political instability and duplicity of the Cadet Party, leads to the latter’s notorious “arrangement” theory (“the people have rights, but it is the prerogative of the monarch to sanction these rights”) and converts it into a party of constitutional illusions. The ideologist of the petty, bourgeoisie cannot grasp the “essence of the constitution”. The petty bourgeois is always inclined to take a scrap of paper for the essence of the thing. He is ill-fitted for independent organisation—that is, independent of the militant class—for the direct revolutionary struggle. Being the most far-removed from the most acute economic struggle of our epoch, he prefers, in politics as well, to yield first place to other classes when it comes to really winning a constitution, to actually achieving a genuine constitution. Let the proletariat fight for the constitutional ground, and on this constitutional ground, so long as it holds, even on the corpses of workers killed during the insurrection, let the toy-business mannikins play at parliamentarism— such is the immanent tendency of the bourgeoisie. And the Cadet Party, this refined, ennobled, sublimated, perfumed, idealised, and sweetened incarnation of general bourgeois aspirations, is working on these lines with wonderful consistency.
You call yourselves the party of people’s freedom? Don’t give us that! You are a party of philistine betrayers of people’s freedom, a party of philistine illusions about people’s freedom. You are a party of freedom—in that you want to subject freedom to a monarch and a landlord Upper Chamber. You are a party of the people—in that you dread the victory of the people, that is, the complete victory of a peasant revolt, of the workers’ struggle for the cause of labour. You are a party of the struggle—in that every time a real, direct, immediate revolutionary struggle against the autocracy flares up, you take refuge behind unctuous, professorial excuses. You are a party of words, not of deeds; a party of promises, not of fulfilment; a party of constitutional illusions, not a party for an earnest struggle for a real (not merely a paper) constitution.
When a lull sets in after a desperate battle; when up above “the sated beast, the victor, lies a-weary”, and down below the people are “sharpening their swords” and gathering fresh strength; when slowly the ferment is beginning to bubble and seethe among the masses again, when a new political crisis and a new great battle are only in the making—then the party of philistine illusions about people’s freedom reaches the culminating point of its development and exults over its victories. The sated beast feels too languid to pounce once more upon the liberal talkers (there’s no hurry; it can wait!); for the champions of the working class and the peasantry, the time has not yet come for another upheaval. This is just the golden opportunity; this is the time to gather the votes of all the discontented (and who is contented nowadays?); this is the time for our Cadets to sing full-throated, like any nightingale.
The Cadets are the worms in the grave of the revolution. The revolution lies buried. It is being eaten by worms. But revolution has the power of speedy resurrection and of blossoming forth again on well-prepared soil. The soil has been wonderfully, magnificently prepared by the October days of freedom and by the December uprising; but we would not for a moment deny that the worms, too, are doing useful work while the revolution lies buried. Why, these fat worms manure the soil so well....
Mr. Struve once exclaimed in Polyarnaya Zvezda: “The peasant in the Duma will be a Cadet!” Very likely. The bulk of the peasants are, of course, in favour of freedom for the people. They will hear these fine, lofty words, they will see the police officials, face-smashing policemen, and feudal-minded landlords dressed up in all sorts of “Octobrist” costumes: and, of course, they will be on the side of freedom for the people, they will be attracted by the beautifully coloured labels, they will not see through this philistine deception all at once. They will become Cadets— and remain Cadets until the course of events shows them that the people’s freedom has still to be won, that the real fight for freedom for the people has still to be fought outside the Duma. And then—then the peasants as well as the bulk of the town petty bourgeoisie will split: a small but economically powerful kulak minority may this time definitely side with the counter-revolution, another section will go over to the side of “compromise”, of “reconciliation”, of an amicable deal with the monarchy and the landlords; and a third section will side with the revolution.
In December, during the great struggle, the townspeople built barricades. In March, when the insurrection is sup pressed, they protest against the government by voting for the Cadets. When their present constitutional illusions are dispelled, they will leave the Cadets and go over to the revolution again. How many of the townspeople abandon Cadet word-spinning for revolutionary struggle, how many of the peasantry join them, how vigorously, how well-organised, how successfully the proletariat goes forward in the next onslaught, will determine the outcome of the revolution.
The Cadet Party is an ephemeral, lifeless party. This may sound paradoxical at a time when the Cadets are achieving brilliant election victories, and will probably achieve still more brilliant “parliamentary” victories in the Duma. But Marxism teaches us to examine all phenomena in their process of development, and not to be content merely with superficial descriptions; not to believe in pretty labels, but to investigate the economic, class basis of parties; to study the objective political situations which will determine the significance and outcome of their political activities. Apply this method to the Cadets, and you will see that our assertion is correct. The Cadets are not a party, but a symptom. They are not a political force, but foam resulting from the collision of more or less equally balanced contending forces. They do in very truth combine in themselves the swan, crab and pike of the fable—the garrulous, boastful, smug, narrow-minded, craven bourgeois intellectual, the counter-revolutionary landlord who wants to ransom himself from revolution at a reasonable price, and lastly the hard, shrewd, cheese-paring and tight-fisted petty bourgeois. This party neither desires, nor is it able, to rule at all firmly in bourgeois society; it neither desires, nor is it able, to lead the bourgeois-democratic revolution along anything like a definite path. The Cadets have no desire to rule; they prefer to “belong” under a monarchy and an Upper Chamber. They cannot rule, because the real masters of bourgeois society, the Shipovs and Guchkovs, the representatives of big capital and big property, hold aloof from this party. The Cadets are a party of dreamers about a nice white, clean, orderly, “ideal” bourgeois society. The Guchkovs and Shipovs are the party of real, genuine, grimy capital in modern bourgeois society. The Cadets cannot lead the revolution forward, because they lack the backing of a united and really revolutionary class. They dread the revolution. They rally everybody, the whole “people”, only on the basis of constitutional illusions and unite them only with a negative bond: hatred for the sated beast, for the autocratic government, in opposition to which, on the present “legal” basis, the Cadets are more to the left than anybody else.
The historical role of the Cadets is a transient, fleeting one. They will fall together with the inevitable and speedy fall of constitutional illusions; they will fall like the French Social-Democrats of the late 1840s, who very much resembled our Cadets, and were also petty-bourgeois. The Cadets will fall, after preparing the soil—either for a prolonged triumph of the Shipovs and Guchkovs, for a prolonged burial of the revolution, for “serious” bourgeois constitutionalism, or for the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.
IV. The Role and Significance of a Cadet Duma[edit source]
And so the State Duma will be a Cadet Duma, say the liberal newspapers. We have already said that this is quite probable. We can only add that even if, despite their present victories, the Cadets prove to be a minority in the Duma, it is not likely to affect very materially the course of the political crisis that is again maturing in Russia. The elements of this revolutionary crisis are too deep-rooted to be seriously affected by the composition of the Duma. The attitude of the broad masses of the people towards the government is quite clear. The attitude of the government towards the pressing needs of the whole of social development is more than clear. Naturally, in these circumstances, the revolution will advance. The predominance of the Black Hundreds in the First Duma can have only one probable delaying effect upon certain aspects of the political development of Russia: the collapse of the Cadet Party and of its prestige among the people will be delayed if the Cadets are now in the minority. At the present time it would be very convenient for them to be in a minority and to remain in opposition. The public would attribute the predominance of the Black Hundreds to the government’s repressive measures during the elections. The opposition speeches of the Cadets, who realise how “harmless” their opposition is, would be particularly fervid. Their prestige among the broad masses of the politically uneducated population might rise, in circumstances when their “words” sounded even louder than at present, while their “deeds” remained even more vague because of their being outvoted by the Octobrists. Even then, the growth of discontent with the government and preparations for a new revolutionary upsurge would continue; but the exposure of Cadet futility might be somewhat delayed.
Let us now make another assumption, a more probable one, if we are to believe the present assertions of the Cadet newspapers. Let us assume that the Cadets will have a majority in the Duma, consisting, of course, of the same combination of Cadets and various non-party, “petty-party” and other liberals that we now see in the elections. What will the role and significance of a Cadet Duma be then?
The Cadets themselves give a very specific answer to this question. Their statements, promises and high-sounding phrases breathe firmness and determination. And it is extremely important that we members of the workers’ party should carefully collect all these statements, keep them well in mind, spread them among the people and ensure by all means that these lessons in politics (which the Cadets are giving the people) are not wasted, that the workers and peasants know exactly what the Cadets are promising and how they carry out their promises.
In this pamphlet—which contains no more than the cursory comments of a wandering Social-Democratic publicist who by the grace of Durnovo and Co. has had to retire from journalistic work—in this pamphlet, we cannot hope to collect all, or even all the most important, statements and promises of the Cadets who are going into the Duma. We can only note one or two things in the literature that we happen to have at our disposal.
Here is the newspaper Narodnaya Svoboda, which started publication in December and was soon suppressed by the government. This was the avowed, official organ of the Cadet Party. It was edited by such pillars of this party as Messrs. Milyukov and Hessen. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the whole Cadet Party is responsible for its contents.
In its issue of December 20, Narodnaya Svoboda sets about convincing its readers that it is necessary to go into the Duma. What arguments does the Cadet organ advance in support of this? Narodnaya Svoboda does not attempt to deny that the political task that immediately confronts Russia is to convene a constituent assembly. The Cadet organ takes this for granted. The only question is, you see, who is to convene the constituent assembly? This question may be answered in three ways: (1) the present, i.e., in practice the autocratic, government; (2) a provisional revolutionary government; and (3) the State Duma as “an authority competing with authority”. The Cadets reject the first two outcomes—they place no hopes in the autocratic government, and have no faith in the success of an insurrection. They accept the third outcome. They urge that it is necessary to go into the Duma because this is the best, surest, and so on and so forth, method of convening a national constituent assembly.
Mark this conclusion well, gentlemen! The Cadet Party, the party of “people’s freedom”, has promised the people to use the “authority competing with authority”, to use its predominance in the State Duma (if the people help it to achieve this predominance), to convene a national constituent assembly.
This is a historical fact. It is an important pledge. It will be the first test of how the party of “people’s freedom” (in inverted commas) will serve people’s freedom (with out inverted commas).
In the current issues of the Cadet Party newspapers (and. we repeat, nearly all the liberal newspapers, including Rus, Nasha Zhizn, etc., have virtually gone over to that party), you will no longer find this promise. You may find references to the “constituting functions” of the Duma; but nothing is said now about the Duma convening a national constituent assembly. As the time to back promises with deeds draws nearer, they already take a step backwards, they prepare a loophole.
Perhaps the whole trouble is that the present ferocious laws are preventing you from speaking openly about a constituent assembly? Is that so, gentlemen? But in the Duma, where your deputies will by law enjoy freedom of speech, you will again give full voice to your demand for the convocation—what am I saying?—you will convene the national constituent assembly, will you not?
Let us wait and see. And we shall not forget the Cadets’ promise to convene a national constituent assembly through the medium of the Duma. The Cadet newspapers now bristle with statements to the effect that they, the Cadets, will be “the government”, that they will be “in power”, and so on, and so forth. Good luck, gentlemen! The sooner you have a majority in the Duma, the sooner will your promissory notes be presented to you for payment. The Cadet newspaper Rus, welcoming the victory of the party of “people’s freedom” in St. Petersburg, publishes in its issue of March 22 an impassioned article entitled “With the People or Against It?” It says nothing specifically about the Duma convening a national constituent assembly. But despite this step back from the Cadets’ promises, it paints a fairly rosy picture of the Cadets’ prospects:
“The principal mission of the Duma that is about to assemble, and of the Party of People’s Freedom in it, is to be the whips and scorpions of the people’s anger.
“After expelling and impeaching the criminal members of the government, it will have to deal only with urgent measures and then convene a real Duma—on a broader basis, the representative of the whole people [i.e., the constituent assembly?].
“This is the indubitable function of the Duma, i.e., the function that the people itself now imposes on it.”
So. Expel the government. Impeach the government. Convene a real Duma.
Rus writes well. The Cadets speak well; they speak wonderfully well. It is only a pity that their newspapers are suppressed for these fine words....
Gentlemen, let us remember this new promise you have made on the day following the St. Petersburg elections; let us remember it very well. The Cadets are going into the Duma to expel the government, to impeach the government, to convene a real Duma.
Let us now pass from the Cadets’ promises regarding the Duma to the government’s “views” about the Cadet Duma. Of course, nobody is allowed to know exactly what these “views” are; but those same optimistic Cadet newspapers provide us with some material from which to appraise them. For example, the reports published about the proposed loan in France appear to be more and more confident that this matter is settled, and that the loan will be floated before the Duma is convened. Thus, the government will, of course, be still less dependent on the Duma.
Then, as regards the prospects of the Witte-Durnovo Ministry, the same Rus (or Molva), in the article, quoted above, calls upon the government to “go with the people, i. e., with the Duma”. As you see, “expelling the criminal members of the government” merely means making certain changes in its composition. The nature of these changes can be seen from the following statement in this newspaper:
“Today, a Ministry formed by a man of repute like D. N. Shipov would be most advantageous even for the reaction. It alone could avert a final collision between the government and society in the Duma.” But we are assuming that “the worst happens”, observes the newspaper, anticipating the formation of a purely bureaucratic Ministry. “Here no proof is required,” says Molva. “It is obvious to everybody that if the government does not intend to rob the Duma of all significance, it must, it is in duty bound to, dismiss Durnovo, Witte and Akimov forthwith. And it is equally clear that if this does not happen, if this is not done, it will show that the gendarme policy of ’curbing and preventing’ is to be applied both to the representatives of the people and to the State Duma. And for this purpose, of course, the most suitable men are those whose arms are already steeped to the elbows in the blood of the people. It is quite obvious that if Mr. Durnovo remains in office with the Duma in opposition, it can only be for the purpose of dispersing the Duma. It has no other purpose, nor can it have. Everybody under stands this. It is understood on the stock exchange, and it is understood abroad." “To resist” the Duma means “sending the ship of state out into such a raging storm”, etc., etc.
Lastly, to complete the picture, we will quote the following report published in the Cadet Nasha Zhizn of March 21 about the “bureaucratic spheres”, concerning which this newspaper tries to give its readers as much information as possible.
“The increasing successes of the Cadet Party have attracted the attention of the higher spheres. At first they were somewhat alarmed by these successes, hut now they are treating them quite calmly. Last Sunday a private conference of the highest representatives of the government was held to discuss this question, where this attitude became apparent, and, moreover, tactics, so to speak, were decided on. Incidentally, some very characteristic observations were made. Some held that a Cadet victory is positively to the government’s advantage, for, if the Bight elements were to win in the Duma elections, it would only play into the hands of the extreme groups, who would use the composition of the Duma as a pretext for conducting propaganda against it, and would argue that it was deliberately picked to ensure a reactionary majority. The more representatives of the Cadet Party there are in the Duma, the more the bulk of the nation will respect it. As regards the tactics to be adopted towards the Duma, the majority held that there are no grounds for apprehending any ’surprises’ in view of ’the restrictions that are imposed on the Duma’, as one of those present candidly remarked. In view of this, the majority believed that the future members of the Duma should not be hindered, ’even if they do criticise individual members of the government’. A great many expect this, and the general opinion of the bureaucrats on this point can be summed up as follows: ’Let them talk’; ’there will be demands for proceedings to be taken; perhaps proceedings will he started, and so forth, and then they will get tired of it. What becomes of these cases, we shall see; meanwhile the members will have to concern themselves with questions affecting the country—and then everything will slip into its normal course. Even if the members take it into their heads to express no confidence in the government, that will not be serious either; after all, the Ministers are not appointed by the Duma’. It is reported that these arguments had a soothing effect even upon Durnovo and Witte, who were at first alarmed by the successes of the Cadet Party."
Thus you have the opinions, views and intentions of the persons directly interested and participating in these “affairs”. On the one hand, there are prospects of a struggle. The Cadets promise to expel the government and convene a new Duma. If the government attempts to dissolve the Duma, there will be “a raging storm”. The question therefore is: who will expel, or who will dissolve? On the other hand, there is the prospect of a deal. The Cadets think that a Shipov Minis try could avert a collision between the government and society. The government thinks: let them talk; let them even take one or two to court; after all, the Ministers are not appointed by the Duma. We have deliberately quoted only the opinions of those who are involved in the deal, and have quoted them entirely in their own words. We have add ed nothing. To have added anything would have weakened the impression created by the evidence of the witnesses. And their evidence gives us a vivid picture of what a Cadet Duma will be like.
Either a struggle, and in that case it will not be the Duma that will fight, but the revolutionary people. The Duma hopes to reap the fruits of victory. Or a deal, and then in any case it will be the people, i.e., the proletariat and the peasantry, who will be deceived. As regards the terms of the deal, men who are really business-like say nothing until the time is ripe. Only hot-headed “radicals” sometimes blurt it out. Let us say, for example, the Ministry of bureaucrats is replaced by a Ministry formed by that “honest bourgeois”, Shipov; it will then be possible to strike a bargain that will be fair to both sides.... Then we shall come very, very near to achieving the Cadet ideal: first place for the monarchy; second place for a landlord and factory-owner Upper Chamber, with a Shipov Ministry that will harmonise with it, and third place for a “popular” Duma.
It goes without saying that this alternative, like every assumption concerning the social and political future, indicates only the main and fundamental lines of development. In real life, we often see mixed solutions; lines intercross—struggles alternate with deals, and struggles supplement the deals. This is exactly how Mr. Milyukov, in Rech of Friday, March 24, argues about the prospects that are already arising out of the Cadet victory, which is now evident. It is quite wrong, he says, to regard us as, and to declare that we are, revolutionaries. It all depends upon circumstances, gentlemen, says our “charming dialectician” for the edification of the powers that be; even Shipov was a “revolutionary” up to October 17. If you agree to a deal with us in a peaceful and friendly way, we shall agree to reforms and not revolution. If you do not agree, we shall probably have to exert some pressure from below upon you, release a little bit of revolution to frighten you, to weaken you by a blow struck by the revolutionary people, and then you will be more accommodating, and before you know where you are, we shall have got a better bargain.
Thus, the elements of the problem are as follows. A government is in power which the majority of the bourgeoisie avowedly do not trust, and which the workers and class-conscious peasants hate. The government has a tremendous force at its command. Its one weak spot is finance; and even that is not certain. It may still be able to raise a loan before the Duma assembles. Against the government, according to our assumption, stands the Cadet Duma. What does it want? Its bargaining price we know: the Cadet programme, i.e., a monarchy and an Upper Chamber, with a democratic Lower Chamber. What is its rock-bottom price? No one knows. Well, something in the nature of a Shipov Ministry, perhaps. True, Shipov is opposed to direct suffrage; but after all, he is an honest man — we could probably come to terms with him, somehow. What are the Cadet Duma’s methods of fighting? To refuse to vote money. An unreliable method, first, because the government may probably get the money without the Duma; and secondly, because according to the law, the Duma’s right of control over finance is very, very slight. The other method is: “They will shoot.” You remember how Katkov depicted the attitude of the liberals towards the government: yield, or “they” will shoot. But in Katkov’s time “they” were a handful of heroes who were unable to do anything except assassinate individuals. Today, “they” are. the whole mass of the proletariat, which in October showed that it was capable of amazingly concerted country-wide action, and in December showed that it was capable of waging a stubborn armed struggle. And now “they” also include the peasant masses, who have shown that they are capable of waging a revolutionary struggle, if in an unco-ordinated, unconscious and disunited fashion; but among them there are increasing numbers of those who, given appropriate conditions, given the slightest breath of free air (it is so difficult to escape the draught nowadays!), will be capable of leading millions. ’They” are not only capable of assassinating Cabinet Ministers; “they” can completely sweep away the monarchy, and all traces of an Upper Chamber, and landlordism, and even the standing army. “They” are not only capable of doing this, “they” will inevitably do it, if the severity of the military dictatorship.— the last refuge of the old order, last not in the light of theoretical calculations, but of acquired practical experience— is relaxed.
Such are the elements of the problem. How it will be solved cannot be predicted with absolute certainty. There can be no doubt about how we Social-Democrats want to solve it, and how all class-conscious workers and class-conscious peasants will solve it: by striving for the complete victory of the peasant uprising and for the winning of a really democratic republic. What will Cadet tactics be in these circumstances; what should they be, not according to what individuals want and think, but in virtue of the objective conditions of existence of a petty bourgeoisie in capitalist society fighting for its emancipation?
The Cadets’ tactics will certainly and inevitably reduce themselves to manoeuvring between the autocracy and the victory of the revolutionary people, and to preventing either of the opponents from finally and completely crushing the other. If the autocracy succeeds in finally and completely crushing the revolution, the Cadets will become powerless, for their strength is derived from the strength of the revolution. If the revolutionary people, i.e., the proletariat, and the peasantry rising in revolt against the whole system of landlordism, crush the autocracy finally and completely, and hence, sweep away the monarchy with all its frills and trimmings, the Cadets will also be powerless, for all the virile elements will desert them either for the revolution or for the counter-revolution; and the party will be left with a couple of Kiesewetters sighing about the “dictatorship”, and digging Latin dictionaries for the appropriate Latin terms. Briefly, the Cadets’ tactics may be formulated as follows: to ensure the support of the revolutionary people for the Cadet Party. By “support” they evidently mean such action by the revolutionary people as will, first, be entirely subordinated to the interests of the Cadet Party and carried out according to its instructions, etc.; and secondly, not be too resolute and aggressive, and above all, not be too drastic. The revolutionary people must not be independent, that is the first point; and it must not achieve final victory, it must not crush its enemy, that is point two. These are the tactics that, on the whole, will inevitably be pursued by the entire Cadet Party and by any Cadet Duma. And, of course, these tactics will be backed, defended and justified with the aid of the rich ideological stock-in-trade of “scientific” investigations, “philosophical” obscurities, political (or politicians’) banalities, “literary-critical” squealing (d la Berdayev), etc., etc.
On the other hand, the revolutionary Social-Democrats cannot at the present time define their tactics by the pro position: support of the Cadet Party and a Cadet Duma. Such tactics would be wrong and utterly useless.
The retort to us will be, of course: What? Do you repudiate what is recognised in your programme and by all international Social-Democracy? Do you deny that the Social-Democratic proletariat must support the revolutionary and oppositionist bourgeois democrats? Why, that is anarchism, utopianism, rebelliousness, senseless revolutionism.
But wait a minute, gentlemen. Permit us first of all to remind you that this is not a general, or abstract, question of whether to support bourgeois democrats in general, but a concrete question of whether to support precisely the Cadet Party and precisely a Cadet Duma. We are not repudiating a general proposition; we are demanding a special analysis of the conditions for applying these general principles in a concrete case. Truth is never abstract, it is always concrete. This is forgotten by Plekhanov, for example, who, not for the first time, is proposing, and laying special emphasis on the tactics: “Reaction is trying to isolate us. We must try to isolate reaction.” This proposition is correct, but it is ridiculously general: it applies equally to Russia of 1870, to Russia of 1906, to Russia generally, and to Africa, America, China and India. It tells us nothing and helps us in no way; for the whole problem is to define what reaction is, whom we must unite with, and how (or if not unite, then co-ordinate our activities with), in order to isolate reaction. Plekhanov is afraid to specify; but actually, in practice, his tactics, as we have already shown, amount to election agreements between the Social-Democrats and the Constitutional-Democrats, to Social-Democrats supporting the Cadets.
The Cadets are opposed to reaction? I turn again to Molva, No. 18 of March 22, which I have already quoted. The Cadets want to expel the government. That is splendid; that is opposition to reaction. The Cadets want to make peace with the autocratic government on the basis of a Shipov Ministry. That’s bad. That’s one of the worst forms of reaction. You see, gentlemen: abstract propositions, bald phrases about reaction, do not carry you a single step forward.
The Cadets are bourgeois democrats? That is true. But then the peasant masses, who are out for the confiscation of all the landed estates—which the Cadets don’t want—are also bourgeois democrats. Both the forms and the content of the political activities of these two sections of bourgeois democrats are different. Which of them is it more important for us to support at the present time? Can we, generally speaking, in the period of democratic revolution, support the former? Will it not mean betraying the latter? Or perhaps you will deny that Cadets who in politics are ready to resign themselves to a Shipov, in the agrarian question are capable of resigning themselves to a Kaufman? You see, gentlemen: abstract propositions, bald phrases about bourgeois democracy, do not carry you a single step forward.
But the Cadets are a united, strong and virile parliamentary party!
That is not true. The Cadets are neither a united, nor a strong, nor a virile, nor a parliamentary party. They are not united, for many of the people who voted for them are capable of fighting to the very end and not merely of striking a bargain. They are not united, for their social basis is inherently contradictory: it ranges from the democratic petty bourgeoisie to the counter-revolutionary landlords. They are not strong, for as a party they refuse to, and cannot, take part in the intense and open civil war that flared up in Russia at the end of 1905, and very likely will flare up again with added force in the near future. They are not a virile party, for even if their ideal is achieved, not they but the “solid” bourgeois, the Shipovs and Guchkovs, will be the power in the society formed in conformity with this ideal. They are not a parliamentary party, for we have no parliament. We have no Constitution; we have only a constitutional autocracy, only constitutional illusions,which are particularly harmful in a period of intense civil war, and which the Cadets are spreading with particular zeal.
This brings us to the pivot of the question. The specific feature of the present state of the Russian revolution is that objective conditions are pushing into the forefront a resolute, extra-parliamentary struggle for parliamentarism; and for that reason there can be nothing more harmful and dangerous at such a time than constitutional illusions and playing at parliamentarism. At such a time the parties of “parliamentary” opposition may be more dangerous and harmful than completely and avowedly reactionary parties: this proposition may sound paradoxical only to those who are totally incapable of thinking dialectically. Indeed, if the demand for parliamentarism has fully matured among the widest masses of the people, if it is based on the whole of the age-long social and economic evolution of the country, and if political evolution has brought us to the point of achieving it, what can be more dangerous and harmful than a fictitious realisation of this demand? Avowed anti-parliamentarism is harmless. Its doom is sealed. It is dead. The attempts to resurrect it are only having the very good effect of revolutionising the more backward strata of the population. A “constitutional autocracy”, the creation and spreading of constitutional illusions, are becoming the only possible means of saving the autocracy. This is the only correct and wise policy the autocracy can pursue.
And I assert that at the present time the Cadets are doing more to help the autocracy to pursue this wise policy than Moskovskiye Vedomosti. Take, for example, the controversy between the latter and the liberal press as to whether Russia is a constitutional monarchy: It is not, says Moskovskiye Vedomosti. It is, say the Cadet newspapers in unison. In this controversy, Moskovskiye Vedomosti is progressive and the Cadet newspapers are reactionary; for Moskovskiye Vedomosti is telling the truth, exposing illusions, aussprechen was ist, whereas the Cadets are telling a lie—a well-meaning, benevolent, sincerely-conscientious, beautiful, graceful, scientifically-smooth, Kiesewetter-varnished, drawing-room polite lie: but a lie nevertheless. And there is nothing more dangerous, nothing more harmful, in the present period of the struggle—considering the present objective conditions—than such a lie.
A slight digression. Recently I delivered a lecture on political topics at the house of a very enlightened and extremely amiable Cadet. We had a discussion. Our host said: Imagine there is a wild beast before us, a lion; and we two are slaves who have been thrown to this lion. Would it be appropriate if we started an argument? Is it not our duty to unite to fight this common enemy, to “isolate reaction”, as that most wise and most far-sighted of Social-Democrats, G. V. Plekhanov, so excellently puts it? The analogy is a good one, and I accept it, I replied. But what if one of the slaves advises securing weapons and attacking the lion, while the other, in the very midst of the struggle, notices a tab reading “Constitution” suspended from the lion’s neck, and starts shouting: “I am opposed to violence, both from the Right and from the Left”; “I am a member of a parliamentary party and stand for constitutional methods.” Under those circumstances would not the lion’s cub who blurted out the lion’s real intentions, be doing more to educate the masses and to develop their political and class consciousness, than the slave being mauled by the lion who was preaching faith in tabs?
The whole point is that, in using the stock argument that Social-Democrats must support the bourgeois democrats, people too often allow general abstract propositions to obscure the concrete situation, in which a resolute struggle for parliamentarism is maturing and in which the autocratic government is playing at parliamentarism as one of the means of combating parliamentarism. In such circumstances, when the final battle outside parliament still lies ahead, to advocate that the workers’ party should support the party of parliamentary compromisers, the party of constitutional illusions, would be a really fatal mistake, if not a crime against the proletariat.
Let us imagine that we have in Russia a firmly established parliamentary system. This would mean that parliament had already become the main form of the domination of the ruling classes and forces, that it had become the principal arena of the conflict of social and political interests. There would be no revolutionary movement in the direct sense of the term; the economic and other conditions would not be engendering revolutionary outbreaks in the period we are assuming. No declamations, however revolutionary, could of course “call forth” revolution in such circumstances. It would be utterly wrong for Social-Democrats in such conditions to renounce the parliamentary struggle. It would be the duty of the workers’ party to take up parliamentarism most seriously; to take part in “Duma” elections and in the “Duma” itself; and to adjust all its tactics to the conditions favourable for the formation and successful functioning of a parliamentary Social-Democratic Party. In those circumstances, it would be our bounden duty to support the Cadet Party in parliament against all parties to the right of it. Then, too, it would be wrong categorically to object to election agreements with this party in joint elections, say, in gubernia election meetings (if the elections were indirect). More than that. It would be the duty of the Social-Democrats in parliament to support even the Shipovites against the real, brazen reactionaries. We would then say: reaction is trying to isolate us; we must try to isolate reaction.
Today, however, there is nothing like an established, universally-recognised and really parliamentary regime in Russia. The main form of domination of the ruling classes and social forces in Russia today is an avowedly non-parliamentary form; parliament is admittedly not the principal arena of the conflict of social and political interests. In these circumstances, it would be suicidal for the workers’ party to support the party of parliamentary compromisers. On the other hand, support for the bourgeois democrats who are operating in a non-parliamentary manner, even if spontaneously, sporadically and unconsciously (like the peasant outbreaks) comes to the forefront, becomes a real, serious business, to which all else must be subordinated. In such social and political conditions, insurrection is a reality, while parliamentarism is a plaything, an unimportant field of struggle, a bait rather than a real concession. Hence the point is not that we repudiate or underrate the importance of parliamentarism; and general phrases about parliamentarism do not affect our position at all. The point is that in the particular conditions precisely of the present stage of the democratic revolution the bourgeois compromisers, the liberal monarchists, while not denying that Durnovo may simply send the Duma packing, or that the law may finally reduce this Duma to a cipher, nevertheless declare that parliamentarism is a serious affair and that insurrection is utopia, anarchism, rebelliousness, impotent revolutionism, or what ever else the Kiesewetters, Milyukovs, Struves, Izgoyevs and other heroes of philistinism may call it.
Let us imagine that the Social-Democratic Party had taken part in the Duma elections, and that a number of Social- Democratic electors had been elected. Having plunged into this stupid election farce, we would have had to sup port the Cadets to prevent the Black Hundreds from winning. The Social-Democratic Party would have had to conclude an election agreement with the Cadets. With the aid of the latter, a certain number of Social-Democrats would have been elected to the Duma. We ask, would the game have been worth the candle? Would we have gained or lost by this? In the first place, we would not have been able to inform the masses about the terms and the character of our election agreements with the Cadets from the Social-Democratic point of view. The Cadet newspapers, in hundreds of thou sands and millions of copies, would have spread bourgeois lies and bourgeois distortions of the class aims of the proletariat far and wide. Our leaflets and our little reservations in individual declarations would have been but a drop in the bucket. In practice, we would have turned out to be a dumb appendage of the Cadets. Secondly, by entering into an agreement we would undoubtedly, tacitly or openly and formally— it makes no difference—have undertaken before the proletariat a certain amount of responsibility for the Cadets; we would have vouched for them being better than all the others; we would have guaranteed that their Cadet Duma would help the people; we would have been responsible for the whole of their Cadet policy. Whether we would have been able to disclaim responsibility for any particular steps taken by the Cadets, by means of subsequent “declarations”, is an open question; and besides, the declarations would have remained mere declarations, whereas the election agreement would have remained a fact. But have we any grounds whatever for even indirectly vouching for the Cadets before the proletariat and the masses of the peasantry? Have not the Cadets given us thousands of proofs of their affinity with those German Cadet professors, with those “Frankfurt phrase-mongers”, who managed to convert, not merely a Duma, but a National Constituent Assembly from an instrument for the development of the revolution into an instrument for toning down the revolution, for throttling (morally) the revolution? It would have been a mistake for the Social-Democrats to support the Cadet Party, and our Party has done the right thing in boycotting the Duma elections.
Even now it cannot be the task of the Social-Democrats to support the Cadet Party. We cannot support a Cadet Duma. In war, compromisers and deserters may be even more dangerous than the enemy. Shipov, at any rate, does not call him self a “democrat”, and the “muzhik” who wants “people’s freedom” will not follow his lead. But if the party of “people’s freedom”, after concluding a pact of mutual assistance with the Social-Democrats, were to strike a bargain with the autocracy to substitute a Ministry headed by this very Shipov for a constituent assembly, or were to confine its “activities” to making high-sounding speeches and proposing grandiloquent resolutions, we would find ourselves in a most false position.
To say that the task of the workers’ party at the present time is to support the Cadets would be the same as saying that the function of steam is not to drive a ship’s engine, but to keep up the possibility of sounding the ship’s siren. If there is steam in the boiler, it will be possible to sound the siren. If the revolution is strong, the Cadets will also be able to sound their siren. It is quite easy to imitate the sound of a siren, and in the history of the struggle for parliamentarism bourgeois betrayers of people’s freedom have many times imitated the sound of the siren and bamboozled simple-hearted folk who put their trust in various “first representative assemblies”.
Our task is not to support the Cadet Duma, but to use the conflicts within this Duma, or connected with it, for choosing the right moment to attack the enemy, the right moment for an insurrection against the autocracy. What we have to do is to take account of how the political crisis in the Duma and around it is growing. As a means of testing public opinion and defining as correctly and precisely as possible the moment when “boiling point” is reached, this Duma campaign ought to be of enormous value to us, but only as a symptom, not as the real field of struggle. It is not the Cadet Duma that we shall support; it is not with the Cadet Party that we must reckon, but with those elements of the urban petty bourgeoisie, and particularly of the peasantry, who have voted for the Cadets, and who. will inevitably be disillusioned with them and get into a fighting mood. And the more decisive the victory of the Cadets in the Duma, the more rapidly will this take place. Our task is to use the respite that will be provided by an opposition Duma (and as the proletariat needs time to rally its forces properly, this respite will be very much to our advantage), to organise the workers, to expose constitutional illusions, and to prepare for a military offensive. Our task is to be at our post when the Duma farce develops into a new great political crisis; and our aim then will be, not support for the Cadets (at best they will be only a weak mouthpiece of the revolutionary people), but the overthrow of the autocratic government and the transfer of power to the revolutionary people. If the proletariat and the peasantry are victorious in their insurrection, the Cadet Duma will in a trice draw up a document declaring its association with the manifesto of the revolutionary government announcing the convocation of a national constituent assembly. If the insurrection is suppressed, the victor, exhausted by the struggle, may be compelled to yield a good half of his power to the Cadet Duma, which will sit down to the feast, as it were, and adopt a resolution deploring the “folly” of armed uprising at a time when a genuine constitutional system was supposed to be so possible and so near at hand.... Find the corpses, and you will always find the worms.
V. A Sample of Cadet Smugness[edit source]
To appraise the victories of the Cadets and the present tasks of the workers’ party, it is vastly important to analyse the preceding period of the Russian revolution and its relation to the present period. The draft resolutions on tactics, published by the Majority and the Minority respectively, lay down two lines, express two trends of thought, which arise from two different appraisals of this period. We refer the reader to those resolutions. Here we propose to deal with an article published in the Cadet newspaper Nasha Zhizn. The article discusses the first Menshevik resolution, and provides ample material with which to test, supplement and explain what we have said above about the Cadet Duma. For this reason we quote the article in full (R. Blank, “Topical Questions in the Russian Social-Democratic Movement”, Nasha Zhizn, No. 401, March 23, 1906):
“The resolution of the ’Menshevik’ faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party on party tactics, published the other day, is a very valuable document. It shows that the severe lessons of the first period of the Russian revolution have not been lost on that section of the Russian Social-Democrats which is most sensitive to the demands of real life, and is must thoroughly permeated with the principles of scientific socialism. The object of the new tactics formulated in this resolution is to direct the Russian Social-Democratic movement along the path that is being followed by the whole of the international Social-Democratic movement led by the great Social-Democratic Party of Germany. I say ’new tactics’, but this is not quite correct, because in many respects they represent a reversion to the old principles that were laid down by the founders of the Russian Social-Democratic movement at its very inception, which since then have been repeatedly elaborated by its theoreticians and publicists, and which were accept ed by nearly all Russian Social-Democrats right up to the outbreak of the Russian revolution. But these principles were forgotten. The revolutionary whirlwind caught up the whole of our Social-Democratic movement like a feather and swept it forward at a dizzying speed. All the Social-Democratic and Marxist principles and ideas, elaborated with such zeal and devotion in the course of a quarter of a century, disappeared from view in an instant, as though they were merely a light dust on the surface. The very pillars of the Social-Democratic world-out look were shaken to their very foundations, and even seemed to have been uprooted.
“But the whirlwind raged for a time and then subsided on the spot where it began; the Social-Democrats returned to their starting-point. The force of the whirlwind can be judged from the fact that it even carried away Parvus, as he himself admits; and those who know what a heavy-weight Parvus is, will understand what this means ’The revolutionary torrent swept us forward with irresistible force,’ writes Parvus in his well-known pamphlet. ’We were merely the strings of a harp on which the revolutionary hurricane was playing,’ he observes elsewhere in that pamphlet. This, too, is absolutely true, and explains why Social-Democratic music at that time was so unlike the symphonies of Beethoven, Bach or—Marx. All theories and principles, and even intellect and simple reason, retreat into the background, almost vanish behind the scenes, when the mighty elements appear upon the stage in all their fury.
“But now the turn of intellect and reason has come again, and it is possible to resume deliberate, methodical and systematic activities. Obviously, the first thing to do is to take precautions to prevent a re petition of what occurred in the first period of the Russian revolution, in its Sturm- und-Drang-Zeit, that is, measures against the destructive effects of revolutionary torrents and hurricanes. The only effective precaution against this is to enlarge and strengthen the organisation. It is quite natural, therefore, that the ’Menshevik’ faction should push this task into the forefront and formulate it on broad lines, by including in its programme economic organisations as well, and by recognising the necessity of utilising all legal possibilities. The resolution is free from romantic contempt for ’legality’ and from aristocratic disdain for ’economics’.
’The resolution expresses an equally sober attitude towards the question of the relations between the workers and the bourgeois democrats; it fully recognises the need for mutual assistance and the danger of the proletariat entering single-handed into a decisive struggle against the armed reaction. Particularly noteworthy is the attitude the resolution adopts towards the question of armed uprising. It recognises the necessity of ’avoiding such actions as will bring the proletariat into armed conflict with the government, in conditions that will doom it to remain isolated in this struggle’.
“Only in this way can we in this country avoid a repetition of the June days of 1848 in Paris and make it possible to co-ordinate, if not to coalesce, the struggle of the workers and the bourgeois democrats; for unless this is done the movement cannot be successful. The bourgeois democrats who, according to Karl Marx, ’are of supreme importance in every advanced revolution’, are of no less importance in the Russian revolution. If the Russian Social-Democratic Party cannot, or has no desire to, make them its open allies, it must at all events take care not to push them into the opposite camp, into the camp of reaction and counter-revolution. This the revolutionary Social-Democrats must not do, have no right to do; they are in duty bound to prevent this by every means in their power, for the sake of the cause of freedom, and for the sake of Social-Democracy itself. If the bourgeois democrats are opposed to insurrection at the present time, then it is useless talking about insurrection. This fact must be reckoned with, even if the bourgeoisie is prompted only by its characteristic flabbiness, feebleness and coward ice. Such factors must also be reckoned with. Did not the leader of the Germ an revolutionary Social-Democrats himself say:
"’In der Gewalt sind sie uns stets über!’—’As far as brute force is concerned, they, i.e., the reactionaries, will always be superior to us!’
“Perhaps it is wrong to say ’always’, but as far as the ’present’ is concerned, one can share the opinion of Liebknecht, and of German Social-Democracy which unanimously agrees with him, without being a coward, or even merely ’flabby’ .... Evidently, the resolution of the ’Mensheviks’ is based on this point of view, or at all events on some thing like it. And on a number of other points, too, it is permeated with the same spirit of political realism that distinguishes the German Social-Democrats, and to which their unexampled successes are due.
“Will the Russian Social-Democratic Party as a whole subscribe to the resolution of the ’Mensheviks’? This is something on which much in our revolutionary movement, especially in our Social-Democratic movement—perhaps its very fate for many years to come—will depend. In Russia, as was also the case in other countries, Social-Democracy can take root and become strong only when it penetrates deeply into the democratic masses. Should it, however, limit itself to cultivating the upper, even if the most fruitful, layer of democrats, a new hurricane may easily uproot it from Russian soil in the same way as Social-Democracy was uprooted in France in 1848, or as the Social-Democratic movement known as the ’Chartist movement’ was uproot ed in England in the 1840s.”
Such is Mr. Blank’s article. The most typical “Cadet” arguments, the origins of which are familiar to everyone who has carefully read Mr. Struve’s Osvobozhdeniye and the later legal Cadet publications, are so arranged here that the appraisal of present-day political tactics is based on an appraisal of the past period of the Russian revolution. First of all, therefore, we will examine this appraisal of the past, to see whether it is right or wrong.
Mr. Blank compares two periods of the Russian revolution. The first period covers approximately October-December 1905. This is the period of the revolutionary whirlwind. The second is the present period, which, of course, we have a right to call the period of Cadet victories in the Duma elections, or, perhaps, if we take the risk of running ahead some what, the period of a Cadet Duma.
Regarding this period Mr. Blank says that the turn of intellect and reason has come again, and it is possible to resume deliberate, methodical and systematic activities. On the other hand, Mr. Blank describes the first period as a period in which theory diverged from practice. All Social-Democratic principles and ideas vanished; the tactics that had always been advocated by the founders of Russian Social-Democracy were forgotten, and even the very pillars of the Social-Democratic world-outlook were uprooted.
Mr. Blank’s main assertion is merely a statement of fact: the whole theory of Marxism diverged from “practice” in the period of the revolutionary whirlwind.
Is that true? What is the first and main “pillar” of Marxist theory? It is that the only thoroughly revolutionary class in modern society, and therefore, the advanced class in every revolution, is the proletariat. The question is then: has the revolutionary whirlwind uprooted this “pillar” of the Social-Democratic world-outlook? On the contrary, the whirlwind has vindicated it in the most brilliant fashion. It was the proletariat that was the main and, at first, almost the only fighter in this period. For the first time in history, perhaps, a bourgeois revolution was marked by the employment of a purely proletarian weapon, i.e., the mass political strike, on a scale unprecedented even in the most developed capitalist countries. The proletariat marched into battle, which was definitely revolutionary, at a time when the Struves and Blanks were calling for participation in the Bulygin Duma, and when the Cadet professors were exhorting the students to keep to their studies.With its proletarian weapon, the proletariat won for Russia the whole of that so-called “constitution”, which since then has only been mutilated, chopped about and curtailed. The proletariat in October 1905 employed those tactics of struggle that six months before had been laid down in the resolution of the Bolshevik Third Congress of the RSDLP, which had strongly emphasised the necessity of combining the mass political strike with insurrection; and it is this combination that characterises the whole period of the “revolutionary whirlwind”, the whole of the last quarter of 1905. Thus our ideologist of the petty bourgeoisie has distorted reality in the most brazen and glaring manner. He has not cited a single fact to prove that Marxist theory diverged from practical experience in the period of the “revolutionary whirlwind”; he has tried to obscure the main feature of this whirlwind, which most brilliantly confirmed the correctness of “all Social-Democratic principles and ideas”, of “all the pillars of the Social-Democratic world-outlook”.
Digression. A Popular Talk With Cadet Publicists and Learned Professors[edit source]
But what was the real reason that induced Mr. Blank to come to the monstrously wrong conclusion that all Marxist principles and ideas vanished in the period of the “whirl wind”? It is very interesting to examine this circumstance; it still further exposes the real nature of philistinism in politics.
What is it that mainly distinguished the period of the revolutionary whirlwind” from the present “Cadet” period, as regards the various, forms of political activity and the various methods by which the people make history? First and mainly, it is that during the period of the “whirlwind” certain special methods of making history were employed which are foreign to other periods of political life. The following were the most important of these methods: (1) the seizure” by the people of political liberty—its exercise without any rights and laws, and without any limitations (freedom of assembly, even if only in the universities, freedom of the press, freedom of association, the holding of congresses, etc.); (2) the creation of new organs of revolutionary authority— Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’, Railwaymen’s and Peasants’ Deputies, new rural and urban authorities, and so on, and so forth. These bodies were set up exclusively by the revolutionary sections of the people; they were formed irrespective of all laws and regulations, entirely in a revolutionary way, as a product of the native genius of the people, as a manifestation of the independent activity of the people which had rid it self, or was ridding itself, of its old police fetters. Lastly, they were indeed organs of authority, for all their rudimentary, spontaneous, amorphous and diffuse character, in composition and in activity. They acted as a government when, for example, they seized printing plants (in St. Petersburg) and arrested police officials who were preventing the revolutionary people from exercising their rights (such cases also occurred in St. Petersburg, where the new organ of authority concerned was weakest, and where the old government was strongest). They acted as a government when they appealed to the whole people to withhold money from the old government. They confiscated the old government’s funds (the railway strike committees in the South) and used them for the needs of the new, people’s government. Yes, these were undoubtedly the embryos of a new, people’s, or, if you will, revolutionary government. In their social and political character, they were the rudiments of the dictatorship of the revolutionary elements of the people. This surprises you, Mr. Blank and Mr. Kiesewetter! You do not see here the “reinforced security”, which for the bourgeois is tantamount to dictatorship? We have already told you that you have not the faintest notion of the scientific concept “dictatorship”. We will explain it to you in a moment; but first we will deal with the third “method” of activity in the period of the “revolutionary whirlwind”; the use by the people of force against those who used force against the people.
The organs of authority that we have described represented a dictatorship in embryo, for they recognised no other authority, no law and no standards, no matter by whom established. Authority—unlimited, outside the law, and based on force in the most direct sense of the word—is dictatorship. But the force on which this new authority was based, and sought to base itself was not the force of bayonets usurped by a handful of militarists, not the power of the “police force”, not the power of money nor the power of any previously established institutions. It was nothing of the kind. The new organs of authority possessed neither arms, nor money, nor old institutions. Their power—can you imagine it, Mr. Blank and Mr. Kiesewetter? — had nothing in common with the old instruments of power, nothing in common with “rein forced security”, if we do not have in mind the reinforced security established to protect the people from the tyranny of the police and of the other organs of the old regime.
What was this power based on, then? It was based on the mass of the people. This is the main feature that distinguished this new authority from all the preceding organs of the old regime. The latter were the instruments of the rule of the minority over the people, over the masses of workers and peasants. The former was an instrument of the rule of the people, of the workers and peasants, over the minority, over a handful of police bullies, over a handful of privileged nobles and government officials. Such is the difference between dictatorship over the people and dictatorship of the revolutionary people: mark this well, Mr. Blank and Mr. Kiesewetter! As the dictatorship of a minority, the old regime was able to maintain itself solely with the aid of police devices, solely by preventing the masses of the people from taking part in the government and from supervising the government. The old authority persistently distrusted the masses, feared the light, maintained itself by deception. As the dictatorship of the overwhelming majority, the new authority maintained itself and could maintain itself solely because it enjoyed the confidence of the vast masses, solely because it, in the freest, widest and most resolute manner, enlisted all the masses in the task of government. It concealed nothing, it had no secrets, no regulations, no formalities. It said, in effect: Are you a working man? Do you want to fight to rid Russia of the gang of police bullies? You are our comrade. Elect your deputy. Elect him at once, immediately, whichever way you think best. We will willingly and gladly accept him as a full member of our Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, Peasant Committee, Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies, and so forth. It was an authority open to all, it carried out all its functions before the eyes of the masses, was accessible to the masses, sprang directly from the masses, and was a direct and immediate instrument of the popular masses, of their will. Such was the new authority, or, to be exact, its embryo, for the victory of the old authority trampled down the shoots of this young plant very soon.
Perhaps, Mr. Blank or Mr. Kiesewetter, you will ask: Why “dictatorship”, why “force”? Is it necessary for a vast mass to use force against a handful? Can tens and hundreds of millions be dictators over a thousand or ten thousand?
This question is usually put by people who for the first time hear the term dictatorship used in what to them is a new connotation. People are accustomed to see only a police authority and only a police dictatorship. The idea that there can be government without any police, or that dictatorship need not be a police dictatorship, seems strange to them. You say that millions need not resort to force against thousands? You are mistaken; and your mistake arises from the fact that you do not regard a phenomenon in its process of development.. You forget that the new authority does not drop from the skies, but grows up, arises parallel with, and in opposition to, the old authority, in struggle against it. Unless force is used against tyrants armed with the weapons and instruments of power, the people cannot be liberated from tyrants.
Here is a very simple analogy, Mr. Blank and Mr. Kiesewetter, which will help you to grasp this idea, which seems so remote and “fantastic” to the Cadet mind. Let us suppose that Avramov is injuring and torturing Spiridonova. On Spiridonova’s side, let us say, are tens and hundreds of unarmed people. On Avramov’s side there is a handful of Cossacks. What would the people do if Spiridonova were being tortured, not in a dungeon, but in public? They would resort to force against Avramov and his body-guard. Perhaps they would sacrifice a few of their comrades, shot down by Avramov; but in the long run, they would forcibly disarm Avramov and his Cossacks, and in all probability would kill on the spot some of these brutes in human form; and they would clap the rest into some gaol to prevent them from committing any more outrages and to bring them to judgement before the people.
So you see, Mr. Blank and Mr. Kiesewetter, when Avramov and his Cossacks torture Spiridonova, that is military and police dictatorship over the people. When a revolutionary people (that is to say, a people capable of fighting the tyrants, and not only of exhorting, admonishing, regretting, condemning, whining and whimpering; not a philistine narrow-minded, but a revolutionary people) resorts to force against Avramov and the Avramovs, that is a dictatorship of the revolutionary people. It is a dictatorship, because it is the authority of the people over Avramov, an authority unrestricted by any laws (the philistine, perhaps, would be opposed to rescuing Spiridonova from Avramov by force, thinking it to be against the “law”. They would no doubt ask: Is there a “law” that permits the killing of Avramov? Have not some philistine ideologists built up a theory of non-resistance to evil?). The scientific term “dictatorship” means nothing more nor less than authority untrammeled by any laws, absolutely unrestricted by any rules whatever, and based directly on force. The term “dictatorship” has no other meaning but this— mark this well, Cadet gentlemen. Again, in the analogy we have drawn, we see the dictatorship of the people, because the people, the mass of the population, unorganised, “casually” assembled at the given spot, itself appears on the scene, exercises justice and metes out punishment, exercises power and creates a new, revolutionary law. Lastly, it is the dictatorship of the revolutionary people. Why only of the revolutionary, and not of the whole people? Because among the whole people, constantly suffering, and most cruelly, from the brutalities of the Avramovs, there are some who are physically cowed and terrified; there are some who are morally degraded by the “resist not evil” theory, for example, or simply degraded not by theory, but by prejudice, habit, routine; and there are indifferent people, whom we call philistines, petty-bourgeois people who are more inclined to hold aloof from intense struggle, to pass by or even to hide themselves (for fear of getting mixed up in the fight and getting hurt). That is why the dictatorship is exercised, not by the whole people, but by the revolutionary people who, however, do not shun the whole people, who explain to all the people the motives of their actions in all their details, and who willingly enlist the whole people not only in “administering” the state, but in governing it too, and indeed in organising the state.
Thus our simple analogy contains all the elements of the scientific concept “dictatorship of the revolutionary people”, and also of the concept “military and police dictatorship”. We can now pass from this simple analogy, which even a learned Cadet professor can grasp, to the more complex developments of social life.
Revolution, in the strict and direct sense of the word, is a period in the life of a people when the anger accumulated during centuries of Avramov brutalities breaks forth into actions, not merely into words; and into the actions of millions of the people, not merely of individuals. The people awaken and rise up to rid themselves of the Avramovs. The people rescue the countless numbers of Spiridonovas in Russian life from the Avramovs, use force against the Avramovs, and establish their authority over the Avramovs. Of course, this does not take place so easily, and not “all at once”, as it did in our analogy, simplified for the benefit of Professor Kiesewetter. This struggle of the people against the Avramovs, a struggle in the strict and direct sense of the word, this act of the people in throwing the Avramovs off their backs, stretches over months and years of “revolutionary whirlwind”. This act of the people in throwing the Avramovs off their backs is the real content of what is called the great Russian revolution. This act, regarded from the standpoint of the methods of making history, takes place in the forms we have just described in discussing the revolutionary whirl wind, namely: the people seize political freedom, that is, the freedom which the Avramovs had prevented them from exercising; the people create a new, revolutionary authority, authority over the Avramovs, over the tyrants of the old police regime; the people use force against the Avramovs in order to remove, disarm and make harmless these wild dogs, all the Avramovs, Durnovos, Dubasovs, Mins, etc., etc.
Is it good that the people should apply such unlawful, irregular, unmethodical and unsystematic methods of struggle as seizing their liberty and creating a new, formally unrecognised and revolutionary authority, that it should use force against the oppressors of the people? Yes, it is very good. It is the supreme manifestation of the people’s struggle for liberty. It marks that great period when the dreams of liberty cherished by the best men and women of Russia come true, when liberty becomes the cause of the vast masses of the people, and not merely of individual heroes. It is as good as the rescue by the crowd (in our analogy) of Spiridonova from Avramov, and the forcible disarming of Avramov and making him harmless.
But this brings us to the very pivot of the Cadets’ hidden thoughts and apprehensions. A Cadet is the ideologist of the philistines precisely because he looks at politics, at the liberation of the whole people, at revolution, through the spectacles of that same philistine who, in our analogy of the torture of Spiridonova by Avramov,would try to restrain the crowd, advise it not to break the law, not to hasten to rescue the victim from the hands of the torturer, since he is acting in. the name of the law. In our analogy, of course, that philistine would be morally a monster; but in social life as a whole, we repeat, the philistine monster is not an individual, but a social phenomenon, conditioned, perhaps, by the deep-rooted prejudices of the bourgeois-philistine theory of law.
Why does Mr. Blank hold it as self-evident that all Marxist principles were forgotten during the period of “whirl wind”? Because he distorts Marxism into Brentanoism, and thinks that such “principles” as the seizure of liberty, the establishment of revolutionary authority and the use of force by the people are not Marxist. This idea runs through the whole of Mr.. Blank’s article; and not only Mr. Blank’s, but the articles of all the Cadets, and of all the writers in the liberal and radical camp who, today, are praising Plekhanov for his love of the Cadets; all of them, right up to the Bernsteinians of Bez Zaglavia, the Prokopoviches, Kuskovas and tutti quanti.
Let us see how this opinion arose and why it was bound to arise.
It arose directly out of the Bernsteinian or, to put it more broadly, the opportunist concepts of the West-European Social-Democrats. The fallacies of these concepts, which the “orthodox” Marxists in Western Europe have been systematically exposing all along the line, are now being smuggled into Russia “on the sly”, in a different dressing and on a different occasion. The Bernsteinians accepted and accept Marxism minus its directly revolutionary aspect. They do not regard the parliamentary struggle as one of the weapons particularly suitable for definite historical periods, but as the main and almost the sole form of struggle making “force”, “seizure”, “dictatorship”, unnecessary. It is this vulgar philistine distortion of Marxism that the Blanks and other liberal eulogisers of Plekhanov are now smuggling into Russia. They have become so accustomed to this distortion that they do not even think it necessary to prove that Marxist principles and ideas were forgotten in the period of the revolutionary whirlwind.
Why was such an opinion bound to arise? Because it accords very well with the class standing and interests of the petty bourgeoisie. The ideologists of “purified” bourgeois society agree with all the methods used by the Social-Democrats in their struggle except those to which the revolutionary people resort in the period of a “whirlwind”, and which revolutionary Social-Democrats approve of and help in using. The interests of the bourgeoisie demand that the proletariat should take part in the struggle against the autocracy, but only in a way that does not lead to the supremacy of the proletariat and the peasantry, and does not completely eliminate the old, feudal-autocratic and police organs of state power. The bourgeoisie wants to preserve these organs, only establishing its direct control over them. It needs them against the proletariat, whose struggle would be too greatly facilitated if they were completely abolished. That is why the interests of the bourgeoisie as a class require both a monarchy and an Upper Chamber, and the prevention of the dictatorship of the revolutionary people. Fight the autocracy, the bourgeoisie says to the proletariat, but do not touch the old organs of state power, for I need them. Fight in a “parliamentary” way, that is, within the limits that we will prescribe by agreement with the monarchy. Fight with the aid of organisations, only not organisations like general strike committees, Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ Deputies, etc., but organisations that are recognised, restricted and made safe for capital by a law that we shall pass by agreement with the monarchy.
It is clear, therefore, why the bourgeoisie speaks, with disdain, contempt, anger and hatred about the period of the “whirlwind”, and with rapture, ecstasy and boundless philistine infatuation for reaction, about the period of constitutionalism as protected by Dubasov. It is once again that constant, invariable quality of the Cadets: seeking to lean on the people and at the same time dreading their revolutionary initiative.
It is also clear why the bourgeoisie is in such mortal fear of a repetition of the whirlwind, why it ignores and obscures the elements of the new revolutionary crisis, why it fosters constitutional illusions and spreads them among the people.
Now we have fully explained why Mr. Blank and his like declare that in the period of the “whirlwind” all Marxist principles and ideas were forgotten. Like all philistines, Mr. Blank accepts Marxism minus its revolutionary aspect; he accepts Social-Democratic methods of struggle minus the most revolutionary and directly revolutionary methods.
Mr. Blank’s attitude towards the period of “whirlwind” is extremely characteristic as an illustration of bourgeois failure to understand proletarian movements, bourgeois horror of acute and resolute struggles, bourgeois hatred for every manifestation of a radical and directly revolutionary method of solving social historical problems, a method that breaks up old institutions. Mr. Blank has betrayed himself and all his bourgeois narrow-mindedness. Somewhere he heard and read that during the period of whirlwind the Social-Democrats made “mistakes”—and he has hastened to conclude, and to declare with self-assurance, in tones that brook no contradiction and require no proof, that all the “principles” of Marxism (of which he has not the least notion!) were forgot ten. As for these “mistakes”, we will remark: Has there been a period in the development of the working-class movement, in the development of Social-Democracy, when no mistakes were made, when there was no deviation to the right or the left? Is not the history of the parliamentary period of the struggle waged by the German Social-Democratic Party—the period which all narrow-minded bourgeois all over the world regard as the utmost limit—filled with such mistakes? If Mr. Blank were not an utter ignoramus on problems of socialism, he would easily call to mind Mülberger, Dühring, the Dampfersubvention question, the “Youth”, the Bernsteiniad and many, many more. But Mr. Blank is not interested in studying the actual course of development of the Social-Democratic movement; all he wants is to minimise the scope of the proletarian struggle in order to exalt the bourgeois paltriness of his Cadet Party.
Indeed, if we examine the question in the light of the deviations that the Social-Democratic movement has made from its ordinary, “normal” course, we shall see that even in this respect there was more and not less solidarity and ideological integrity among the Social-Democrats in the period of “revolutionary whirlwind” than there was before it. The tactics adopted in the period of “whirlwind” did not further estrange the two wings of the Social-Democratic Party, but brought them closer together. Former disagreements gave way to unity of opinion on the question of armed uprising. Social-Democrats of both factions were active in the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, these peculiar instruments of embryonic revolutionary authority; they drew the soldiers and peas ants into these Soviets, they issued revolutionary manifestos jointly with the petty-bourgeois revolutionary parties. Old controversies of the pre-revolutionary period gave way to unanimity on practical questions. The upsurge of the revolutionary tide pushed aside disagreements, compelling Social-Democrats to adopt militant tactics; it swept the question of the Duma into the background and put the question of insurrection on the order of the day; and it brought closer together the Social-Democrats and revolutionary bourgeois democrats in carrying out immediate tasks. In Severny Golos, the Mensheviks, jointly with the Bolsheviks, called for a general strike and insurrection; and they called upon the workers to continue this struggle until they had captured power. The revolutionary situation itself suggested practical slogans. There were arguments only over matters of detail in the appraisal of events: for example, Nachalo regarded the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies as organs of revolutionary local self-government, while Novaya Zhizn regarded them as embryonic organs of revolutionary state power that united the proletariat with the revolutionary democrats.
Nachalo inclined towards the dictatorship of the proletariat. Novaya Zhizn advocated the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. But have not disagreements of this kind been observed at every stage of development of every socialist party in Europe?
Mr. Blank’s misrepresentation of the facts and his gross distortion of recent history are nothing more nor less than a sample of the smug bourgeois banality, for which periods of revolutionary whirlwind seem folly (“all principles are forgotten”, “even intellect and reason almost vanish”), while periods of suppression of revolution and philistine “progress” (protected by the Dubasovs) seem to be periods of reasonable, deliberate and methodical activity. This comparative appraisal of two periods (the period of “whirlwind” and the Cadet period) runs through the whole of Mr. Blank’s article. When human history rushes forward with the speed of a locomotive, he calls it a “whirlwind”, a “torrent”, the “vanishing” of all “principles and ideas”. When history plods along at dray-horse pace, the very symbol of it becomes reason and method. When the masses of the people themselves, with all their virgin primitiveness and simple, rough determination begin to make history, begin to put “principles and theories” immediately and directly into practice, the bourgeois is terrified and howls that “intellect is retreating into the back ground” (is not the contrary the case, heroes of philistinism? Is it not the intellect of the masses, and not of individuals, that invades the sphere of history at such moments? Does not mass intellect at such a time become a virile, effective, and not an armchair force?). When the direct movement of the masses has been crushed by shootings, repressive measures, floggings, unemployment and starvation, when all the bugs of professorial science financed by Dubasov come creeping out of their crevices and begin to administer affairs on behalf of the people, in the name of the masses, selling and betraying their interests to a privileged few—then the knights of philistinism think that an era of calm and peaceful progress has set in and that “the turn of intellect and reason has come”. The bourgeois always and everywhere remains true to himself: whether you take Polyarnaya Zvezda or Nasha Zhizn, whether you read Struve or Blank, you will always find this same narrow-minded, professorially pedantic and bureaucratically lifeless appraisal of periods of revolution and periods of reform. The former are periods of madness, tolle Jahre, the disappearance of intellect and reason. The latter are periods of “deliberate and systematic” activities.
Do not misinterpret what I am saying. I am not arguing that the Blanks prefer some periods to others. It is not a matter of preference; our subjective preferences do not determine the changes in historical periods. The thing is that in analysing the characteristics of this or that period (quite apart from our preferences or sympathies), the Blanks shamelessly distort the truth. The thing is that it is just the revolutionary periods which are distinguished by wider, richer, more deliberate, more methodical, more systematic, more courageous and more vivid making of history than periods of philistine, Cadet, reformist progress. But the Blanks turn the truth in side out! They palm off paltriness as magnificent making of history. They regard the inactivity of the oppressed or down trodden masses as the triumph of “system” in the work of bureaucrats and bourgeois. They shout about the disappearance of intellect and reason when, instead of the picking of draft laws to pieces by petty bureaucrats and liberal penny-a-liner journalists, there begins a period of direct political activity of the “common people”, who simply set to work without more ado to smash all the instruments for oppressing the people, seize power and take what was regarded as belonging to all kinds of robbers of the people—in short, when the intellect and reason of millions of downtrodden people awaken not only to read books, but for action, vital human action, to make history.
Look how majestically this Cadet knight argues: “The whirlwind raged for a time and then subsided on the spot where it began.” Why, the fact that the liberal philistines are still alive, that they have not been gobbled up by the Dubasovs, is due entirely to this whirlwind. “On the spot where it began,” you say? You say that Russia in the spring of 1906 is on the same spot as she was in September 1905?
Yes, throughout the “Cadet” period the Dubasovs and Durnovos have been dragging, and will drag Russia “deliberately, methodically and systematically” back, in order to return her to September 1905; but they haven’t the strength to do so, because during the whirlwind the proletarians, the railway- men, the peasants, the mutinous soldiers, have driven all Russia forward with the speed of a locomotive.
Had this unreasoning whirlwind really subsided, the Cadet Duma would have been doomed to engage only in tinkering with wash-basins.
But Mr. Blank has no inkling that the question whether the whirlwind has subsided is a separate and purely scientific question, the answer to which will settle a number of problems of tactics, and an answer to which is essential if we want to understand at all clearly the problems of present-day tactics. Mr. Blank has not based his conclusion that the conditions for a movement in the form of a whirl wind are lacking at present on the examination of facts and arguments (if it were well-founded, such a conclusion would really be of fundamental importance in determining tactics, for, we repeat, these tactics cannot be determined simply by one’s “preference” for one course or another). No, he is simply and frankly expressing his profound (and profoundly short sighted) conviction that it cannot be otherwise. Strictly speaking, Mr. Blank regards the “whirlwind” just as it is regarded by the Wittes, Durnovos, Bülows and other German bureaucrats, who long .ago pronounced the year 1848 to have been a “mad year”. Mr. Blank’s phrase “the whirl wind subsided” expresses, not a scientific conviction, but philistine stupidity, which regards every whirlwind, and whirlwinds in general, as the “disappearing of intellect and reason
“The Social-Democrats have returned to their starting-point,” Mr. Blank assures us. The Mensheviks’ new tactics direct the Russian Social-Democratic movement along the path that is being followed by the entire international Social-Democratic movement.
You see that for some reason Mr. Blank declares the parliamentary path to be the “starting-point” (although it could not have been the starting-point for Social-Democracy in Russia). Mr. Blank regards the parliamentary path as what may be called the normal, the main and even the sole, all-embracing and exclusive path for international Social-Democracy. He has no inkling that, in this respect, he is repeating in its entirety the bourgeois distortion of Social- Democracy that predominates in the German. liberal press, and which at one time was borrowed by the followers of Bern stein. The liberal bourgeois imagines that one of the methods of fighting is the sole method. This fully expresses the Brentano conception of the working-class movement and the class struggle. Mr. Blank has no inkling that the Social-Democrats in Europe took the parliamentary path, and were able to do so, only when objective conditions had removed the question of carrying the bourgeois revolution to its complete fulfilment from the agenda of history, only when the parliamentary system had really become the principal form of bourgeois rule and the principal arena of the social struggle. He does not even stop to think whether there is a parliament and a parliamentary system in Russia, but declares in a peremptory manner: the Social-Democrats have returned to their starting-point. The bourgeois mind can conceive only of incomplete democratic revolutions (for at bottom the interests of the bourgeoisie require incomplete revolutions). The bourgeois mind shuns all non-parliamentary methods of struggle, all open mass actions, any revolution in the direct sense of the term. The bourgeois instinctively hastens to declare, proclaim and accept all sham parliamentarism as real parliamentarism in order to put a stop to the “dizzying whirlwind” (which may be dangerous not only for the heads of many weak-headed bourgeois, but also for their pockets). That is why the Cadet gentlemen are totally incapable even of understanding the scientific and really important question whether the parliamentary method of struggle can be recognised as having any real meaning for Russia, and whether the movement in the form of a “whirl wind” has spent itself. And the material, class background of this incomprehension is quite clear: let the workers support a Cadet Duma by a peaceful strike or some other action, but they must not think of waging an earnest and resolute war of extermination, they must not think of rising in revolt against the autocracy and the monarchy.
“Now the turn of intellect and reason has come again,” says Mr. Blank, going into raptures over the period of Dubasov’s victories. Do you know what, Mr. Blank? There has been no period in the history of Russia to which the expression “the turn of intellect and reason has come again” could be better applied than the period of Alexander III! That is really a fact. It was in that period that the old Russian Narodism ceased to be merely the dreamy contemplation of the future and made its rich contribution to Russian social thought by its researches into the economic life of Russia. It was in that period that Russian revolutionary thought worked hardest, and laid the groundwork for the Social-Democratic world-outlook. Yes, we revolutionaries are far from denying the revolutionary role of reactionary periods. We know that the form of the social movement changes, that periods of direct, constructive political activity by the masses of the people give way in history to periods of outward calm, when the masses, downtrodden and crushed by back-breaking toil and want, are silent or dormant (appear to be dormant), when modes of production become revolutionised with particular rapidity, when the intellect of the foremost representatives of human thought is summing up the past and devising new systems and new methods of research. After all, in Europe, too, the period after the suppression of the revolution of 1848 was distinguished by unprecedented economic progress and by the labours of the intellect that created, say, Marx’s Capital. In short, “the turn of intellect and reason” comes sometimes in periods of human history just as a period of imprisonment in the life of a political leader gives him an opportunity to engage in scientific study and work.
But the trouble with our bourgeois philistine is that he does not realise that his remarks have, so to speak, a prison or Dubasov ring. He does not notice the fundamental question: Is the Russian revolution crushed, or is it on the eve of a revival? Has the form of the social movement changed from a revolutionary form to one adjusted to the Dubasov regime? Have the forces making for a “whirlwind” spent them selves, or not? The bourgeois intellect does not trouble it self with these questions because, in general, it regards revolution as an unreasoning whirlwind, and reform as the return of intellect and reason.
Examine his most edifying argument about organisation. “The first thing” intellect and reason must do, he informs us, “is to take precautions to prevent a repetition of what occurred in the first period of the Russian revolution, in its Sturm- und Drang-Zeit, that is, measures against the destructive effects of revolutionary torrents and hurricanes. The only effective precaution against this is to enlarge and strengthen the organisation.”
You see that, as the Cadet conceives it, the period of hurricane destroyed organisations and organisation itself (see Novoye Vremya, I mean Polyarnaya Zvezda, containing Struve’s articles against anarchy, spontaneity, lack of firm authority during revolutions, etc., etc.); whereas the period of intellect and reason protected by Dubasov is a period for building up organisations. Revolution is evil; it destroys, it is a hurricane, a dizzying whirlwind. Reaction is good; it creates, it is a favourable wind and a time for deliberate, methodical, and systematic activity.
So once again the philosopher of the Cadet Party slanders the revolution and betrays all his infatuation with bourgeois-restricted forms and conditions of the movement. The hurricane destroyed organisations! What a glaring untruth! Mention a period in Russian or world history, find any six months or six years, when as much was done for the free and independent organisation of the masses of the people as was done during the six weeks of the revolutionary whirlwind in Russia when, according to the slanderers of the revolution, all principles and ideas were forgotten and reason and intellect disappeared! What was the all-Russian general strike? Was it not organisation? True, it was not registered by the police, it was not a permanent organisation, and there fore you refuse to take it into account. Take the political organisations. Do you know that the working people, the raw masses, never joined political organisations so eagerly, never increased the membership of the political associations so enormously, never created such original, semi-political organisations as the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies? But you are a bit afraid of the political organisations of the proletariat. Like a true disciple of Brentano, you think that trade unions are safer for the bourgeoisie (and therefore more sound and respectable). If we take the trade unions, we shall find that, in spite of all the philistine tittle-tattle about their being ignored in time of revolution, Russia never saw such a multitude of trade union organisations formed by the workers as in those days. The columns of the socialist, and precisely the socialist, newspapers, both Novaya Zhizn and Nachalo, were packed with reports of the formation of more and more trade unions. Even backward sections of the proletariat, like domestic servants, who could barely be roused in decades of “methodical and systematic” philistine progress, displayed the greatest eagerness and ability to organise. Take the Peasant Union. One often meets Cadets today who speak about this Union with magnificent disdain. Why, it was a semi-fictitious organisation, they say. It has disappeared without leaving a trace. I wonder, gentlemen, how much of your Cadet organisations would be left had you been obliged to contend with punitive expeditions, with innumerable rural Luzhenovskys, Rimans, Filonovs, Avramovs and Zhdanovs. The Peasant Union grew with fabulous speed in the period of the revolutionary whirl wind. It was a genuinely popular, mass organisation, sharing, of course, in a number of peasant prejudices, and susceptible to the petty-bourgeois illusions of the peasants (just like our Socialist-Revolutionaries); but it was undoubtedly a real organisation of the masses, of “men of the soil”, unquestionably revolutionary at bottom, capable of employing genuinely revolutionary methods of struggle. It did not restrict but extended the scope of the political initiative of the peasantry, and brought them, with their hatred of the government officials and the landlords, into the arena—not the semi-intellectuals who are so often inclined to hatch all sorts of proposals for a deal between the revolutionary peasantry and the liberal landlords. The current disdain for the Peasant Union most of all expresses the philistine bourgeois narrow-mindedness of the Cadet, who has no faith in the in dependent revolutionary activity of the masses and is afraid of it. In the days of liberty, the Peasant Union was one of the mightiest realities, and we can confidently predict that, if the Luzhenovskys and Rimans do not butcher more tens of thousands of young, progressive peasants, if the slightest breeze of liberty blows again, this Union will grow with lightning speed, and will become an organisation against which the present Cadet committees will look like specks of dust.
To sum up: the organising abilities of the people, particularly of the proletariat, but also of the peasantry, are revealed a million times more strongly, fully and productively in periods of revolutionary whirlwind than in periods of so-called calm (dray-horse) historical progress. The Blanks’ opinion to the contrary is a bourgeois-bureaucratic distortion of history. The good bourgeois and honest bureaucrat regard as “genuine” only such organisations as have been properly registered by the police and scrupulously conform to all sorts of “provisional regulations”. They cannot conceive of methods and system without provisional regulations. We must therefore have no illusions about the true significance of high-sounding words from a Cadet about romantic contempt for legality and aristocratic disdain for economics. These words have only one real meaning—a bourgeois opportunist dread of the independent revolutionary activity of the people.
Finally, let us examine the last point in Mr. Blank’s Cadet “theory”: the relation between worker democrats and bourgeois democrats. Mr. Blank’s arguments on this subject deserve the closest attention of Social-Democrats, for they provide an example of how Marx is misrepresented by quotations from Marx. Just as Brentano, Sombart, Bernstein and Co. substituted Brentanoism for Marxism by employing Marxian terminology, by quoting some of Marx’s statements and by assuming a Marxist disguise, so our Cadets indulge in the “subtle art” of faking Marxism on the question of the relation between worker democrats and bourgeois democrats.
Unless the activities of the worker democrats and bourgeois democrats are co-ordinated, the bourgeois-democratic revolution cannot be successful. This is gospel truth. Absolute truth. It seems to you, Messrs. Blank, Izgoyev and Co., that the revolutionary Social-Democrats forgot this particularly during the days of the “whirlwind”? You are mistaken, or are deliberately substituting for the concept revolutionary bourgeois democrats the concept bourgeois democrats in general, which includes the monarchist-liberal democrats and the opportunist democrats, but above all the monarchist-liberal democrats. Take Novaya Zhizn, and you will find that it deals with the question of joint action, of a fighting agreement between the worker democrats and the revolutionary bourgeois democrats in nearly every issue. It speaks of the importance of the Peasant Union and of the peasant movement in the most emphatic terms. Despite the Cadet fables about the Marxists’ intolerance and narrow-minded dogmatism, you will find that that paper fully recognises the importance of non-party associations and organisations : but of course only non-party revolutionary organisations. The pivot of the question that is so artfully concealed by our Brentanoists in politics is: Which elements of bourgeois democracy are capable of pushing the bourgeois-democratic revolution to its complete fulfilment when that revolution is, so to speak, half-way towards its goal? Is it the elements that accept the monarchist-liberal programme, that are completely submerged in constitutional illusions and be-spatter revolutionary periods and revolutionary methods of making history with the slime of their philistine anger, condemnation and regret? Or is it those who accept the programme of a complete victory of the peasant uprising (instead of a deal between the peasants and the landlords), of complete victory for democracy (instead of a deal between the democratic Lower Chamber, on the one hand, and the Upper Chamber and the monarchy, on the other)? Have these gentlemen, the Blanks and the Izgoyevs, ever given a thought to this question? Must we at the present time “strike together” with the bourgeois-democratic compromisers or with the bourgeois-democratic revolutionaries?
Have you, esteemed gentlemen, who are so fond of quoting and misrepresenting Marx, ever heard how mercilessly Marx lashed the bourgeois-democratic compromisers in Germany in 1848? And yet these compromisers were members of a National Assembly and not of a paltry State Duma: as democrats, they were far more “resolute” (in words) than our Cadets.
And fifteen years later, during the “constitutional conflict” in Prussia, the same Marx and Engels advised the workers’ party to support the bourgeois-democratic Progressists, who were not a whit better than the Frankfurt democrats. You think that this shows that Marx and Engels were inconsistent and contradicted themselves? You think this proves that they, too, in the period of the “revolutionary whirlwind” almost lost their “intellect and reason” (this view is held by the majority of the Bernsteinians and most of the Cadets)? As a matter of fact, there is no contradiction here at all. In the period of revolutionary struggle, Marx concentrated his attack on constitutional illusions and constitutional compromisers. When the force of the revolutionary “whirlwind” was spent, and there could no longer be any doubt that the German Cadets had utterly betrayed the revolution, when the insurrections had been finally and completely suppressed, and economic prosperity was making any repetition of them hopeless, then and only then (Marx and Engels were not craven-hearted, and their faith in insurrection did not dwindle after the very first defeat!), did they recognise the parliamentary struggle as the main form of struggle. In parliament, once you have gone into it, it is not only permissible but obligatory, in certain circumstances, to support the turncoat Izgoyev against Shipov, and Shipov against Durnovo. In the fight for real parliamentarism there is sometimes nothing more dangerous than Cadet “compromisers”.
If you want to quote Marx, gentlemen, try to prove that our Duma is already an instrument of the rule of the bourgeoisie in a free Russia, and not a fig-leaf for the autocracy. You will say that the latter may evolve into the former through a few slight changes, and that the election of the Cadets is already not a slight, but an important testimony of this “evolution”.
Very well. But in that way you are only putting the question off, you are not answering it. Has the present Duma, right now, already outgrown its limits to such an extent that it can become an organ of state power? Those of you who think so, and are trying to make the people think so, are deliberately spreading the most harmful constitutional illusions: you are downright counter-revolutionaries. Those of you, however, who think it probable that “Durnovo will remain in order to disperse the Duma”, or who realise that nothing is certain yet without an extra-“parliamentary”, revolutionary onslaught, are proving how shaky your position is. Their admissions clearly show that the Cadets’ policy is a policy of the moment, and not a policy of earnestly defending the permanent and fundamental interests of the revolution. These admissions show that during the solution of the new revolutionary crisis that is now maturing, a large number of revolutionary bourgeois democrats will break away from the Cadets, and will be impelled by the Durnovos’ outrages against the Duma to go to the barricades. Thus the whole difference is that you want to restrict this inevitable new battle, to fetter it, to narrow it down to the task of supporting the Cadet Duma; whereas we want to concentrate all our plans, all our energies, all our work of agitation, propaganda and organisation on extending the scope of this battle beyond the limits of Cadet programmes, to extend it to the complete overthrow of the autocracy., to the complete victory of the peasant uprising, to the convocation of a national constituent assembly by revolutionary means.
It seems to you that there are no revolutionary bourgeois democrats in Russia, that the Cadets are the only, or at all events, the main force of bourgeois democracy in Russia. But it seems so to you only because you are short-sighted, be cause you are content to observe only the surface of political events; you do not see or understand the “essence of the constitution”. Being hand-to-mouth politicians, you are most typical opportunists, for the momentary interests of democracy shut out from your view its more profound and fundamental interests: because, engrossed in the tasks of the moment, you forget the more serious tasks of the future: the label prevents you from seeing the contents. There are revolutionary bourgeois democrats in Russia, and there must be, so long as there is a revolutionary peasantry, which by thousands of millions of threads is also bound up with the poorer classes in the towns. These democrats are lying low only because of the activities of the Rimans and Luzhenovskys. The events of the very near future will dispel Cadet illusions. Either the regime of repression continues, the Rimans and Luzhenovskys “do things” while the Cadet Duma talks—and in that case the paltriness of this Duma and of the party that predominates in it will immediately become evident to the vast masses of the people. There will be a strong outbreak, in which it will not be the Cadets as a party that will participate, of course, but those elements among the people that constitute the revolutionary democracy. Or the regime of repression will be relaxed, the government will make a few concessions, and the Cadet Duma, of course, will begin to melt as a result of the very first concessions, and will settle for Shipov, or even perhaps for something worse. The counter revolutionary nature of the Cadets (which stood out in striking relief during the days of the “whirlwind”, and is constantly evident in their literature) will display itself in full. But the very first fresh breeze of liberty, the slightest relaxation of repression, will again inevitably call into being hundreds and thousands of organisations, unions, groups, circles and undertakings of a revolutionary-democratic nature. And this will as inevitably result in another “whirlwind”, in a repetition of the October-December struggle, but on an immeasurably greater scale. The Cadets, who are shining so brightly today, will be dimmed once again. Why? Because maggots are found near corpses, not near living people.
In other words, the Cadets may finally make the people “acquire a taste”, as Durnovo would say, for “people’s freedom”, but they can never under any circumstances wage a genuine struggle for real freedom of the people, freedom without inverted commas, without a compromise with the autocracy. This struggle has still inevitably to be waged; but it will be waged, not by the Cadets, but by other parties, other social elements. It is clear, therefore, why the revolutionary Social-Democrats do not in the least envy the successes of the Cadets, and continue to concentrate on this forthcoming real, and not sham, fight.
Mr. Blank quotes what Marx said about the supreme significance of bourgeois democracy. To express Marx’s real opinion, he should have added: and supremely treacherous significance. Marx said this a thousand times in different passages in his various writings. Comrade Plekhanov, who is inclining towards Brentanoism in present-day politics, has forgotten what Marx said on this score. Indeed, Comrade Plekhanov has no inkling of what the liberal democrats may betray. The answer to this is very simple, Comrade Plekhanov. The party of “people’s freedom” has betrayed the freedom of the people, and will continue to do so.
Mr. Blank admonishes us not to push the bourgeois democrats “into the camp of reaction and counter-revolution”. We ask this sagacious Cadet: do you want to take the world of ideas, theories, programmes and lines of tactics, or the world of material class interests? Let us take both. Who pushed your friend Mr. Struve into the camp of counter revolution, and when? Mr. Struve was a counter-revolutionary in 1894, when, in his Critical Remarks, he made Brentanoist reservations concerning Marxism. And despite the efforts some of us made to “push” him from Brentanoism to Marxism, Mr. Struve went over entirely to Brentanoism. And the counter-revolutionary tone never left the pages of Osvobozhdeniye, the illegal “Osvobozhdeniye”. Was this mere chance? Was it by chance that Mr. Struve was prompted to start that model organ of reactionary spleen, Polyarnaya Zvezda, precisely in the period of the “whirlwind”, of the independent revolutionary activity of the people?
What, in general, pushes the small producer in a commodity economy over to the side of reaction and counter-revolution? The position he occupies in capitalist society between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The petty bourgeois inevitably, in all countries and in every combination of political circumstances, vacillates between revolution and counter-revolution. He wants to free himself from the yoke of capital and to strengthen his position as a small proprietor. This is virtually impossible; and the vacillations of the petty bourgeois are inevitable and ineradicable owing to the very system of modern society. That is why no one but the ideologists of the petty bourgeoisie can imagine that it is thinkable for the workers, or for the peasants rising in revolt against landlordism, to display independent revolutionary activity that will not push a certain section of the bourgeois democrats into the camp of reaction. Only knights of philistinism can regret this.
Do the Blanks and the Izgoyevs (or Comrade Plekhanov) really imagine that it is possible, for example, to have a complete victory of the peasant uprising, that it is possible completely to “take the land” (Plekhanov’s slogan) from the landlords without compensation, without three-fifths of the Cadet “bourgeois democrats” being pushed into the camp of counter-revolution? Should we, therefore, begin bargaining with the Cadets about a “reasonable” peasant programme? What do you think, Comrade Plekhanov? What is your opinion, Messrs. Blank and Izgoyev?
And now for the finale of the political arguments advanced by our Cadet: if the bourgeois democrats are opposed to armed uprising at the present time, it is useless talking about it.
These words express the whole sum and substance of Cadet policy: to subordinate the proletariat to the Cadets, to take it in tow on the fundamental question of its political conduct and its political struggle. It is no use shutting our eyes to that. Mr. Blank rather dexterously tries to distract our attention from the main point. He speaks not about the Cadets, but about bourgeois democrats in general. He talks about the “present juncture”, but not about insurrection in general. But only a child could be taken in by this trick, and fail to realise that the true meaning of Blank’s conclusion is the one we have indicated. We have already cited a number of examples to show that Mr. Blank (like all the Cadets) systematically ignores the bourgeois democrats who are more to the left than the Cadets; and that, in keeping with his whole position as an advocate of constitutional illusions, he identifies the Cadets with the bourgeois democrats, and ignores the revolutionary bourgeois democrats. It only remains for us to prove that the Cadets are opposed to armed uprising in general, and not only to choosing the wrong “moment” (it is curious how often these two things are confused, and it is particularly to the advantage of the Cadets to confuse them, and to cover up their repudiation of insurrection by arguments about the moment chosen for it). This is quite easy to prove. It is sufficient to refer to the illegal “Osvobozhdeniye”, where Mr. Struve, in the spring and summer of 1905, after January 9 and before October 9, strongly opposed armed uprising, and argued that to preach it was “folly and a crime”. Events have sufficiently refuted this counter-revolutionary. Events have proved that it was the combination of general strike and armed uprising—which the Marxists foresaw and put forward as a watchword — that alone won the recognition of liberty and the rudiments of constitutionalism in Russia. Only a very few Social-Democrats, with no supporters in Russia (like Plekhanov), cravenly said about the December insurrection: “It was wrong to take up arms.” On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of Social-Democrats agree that insurrection was a necessary act of resistance to the withdrawal of liberties; that it raised the entire movement to a higher plane and demonstrated the possibility of fighting against regular troops. The latter circumstance has been admitted by such an impartial, sober-minded and cautious witness as Kautsky.
Now let us see what the moral that the Blanks draw amounts to: the proletariat must not think of insurrection if the Cadet Party (which was never revolutionary) is not in sympathy with it (although at present, and at all other times, it is opposed to insurrection). No, Mr. Blank! The proletariat will certainly reckon with the bourgeois democrats on the question of insurrection in general, and on the question of the moment to be chosen f or it in particular—only, it will reckon not with the Cadet bourgeois democrats, but with the revolutionary bourgeois democrats; not wit.h the liberal-monarchist, but with the revolutionary-republican trends and parties; not with windbags who are satisfied with a toy parliament, but with the masses of the peasantry (who are also bourgeois democrats), whose attitude towards insurrection differs from that of the Cadets.
“The Cadets are opposed to insurrection.” Why, they have never been in favour, nor can they ever be in favour of it. They dread it. They naively imagine that it depends on their wishes—the wishes of the intermediary elements who stand aloof from the most acute and direct struggle—whether there is to be an insurrection or not. What a delusion! The autocracy is preparing for civil war, and is just now preparing for it very methodically. A new, much wider and more pro found political crisis is maturing because of the Duma. Both the peasant masses and the proletariat still have in their midst vast numbers of militants who are emphatically demanding freedom for the people, not deals that will curtail the freedom of the people. Can the wishes of this or that party determine in these circumstances whether an insurrection will break out or not?
Just as the West-European philistine on the eve of socialist revolution yearns for an abatement of the class antagonisms between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, pleads with the latter not to push the representatives of the bourgeoisie into the camp of reaction, declares in favour of social peace, and with profound moral indignation rejects the unscientific, narrow-minded, conspiratorial, anarchist, and so forth, idea of a cataclysm, so the Russian philistine, half way on the road towards our bourgeois-democratic revolution, yearns for an abatement of the antagonism between the autocracy and people’s freedom, pleads with the revolutionaries, that is, with all resolute and consistent support ers of the people’s freedom, not to push the liberal bourgeoisie into the camp of reaction, advocates the constitutional path, and with sincere indignation, reinforced with philosophical idealism, rejects the unscientific, narrow-minded, conspiratorial, anarchist, and so forth, idea of insurrection. The class-conscious worker says to the West-European philistine:
“The question of a cataclysm will be decided by the intensification of extremes and not by the intermediary elements.” To the Russian philistine (and the Cadet is the ideal philistine in politics) the class-conscious worker says: “The question of insurrection depends, not on the will of the liberals, but on the actions of the autocracy and the growth of the class-consciousness and the indignation of the revolutionary peasantry and the proletariat. The West-European philistines say to the proletariat: “Don’t repel the small peasants and the enlightened, social-liberal, reforming petty bourgeoisie generally; don’t isolate yourselves; it is the reactionaries who want to isolate you.” To this the proletarian replies: “I must, in the interests of the whole of toiling humanity, isolate my self from those who advocate compromise between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, for these compromisers are advising me to disarm; they are exercising the most harmful, immediately and practically harmful influence on the minds of the oppressed class by preaching compromise, abatement of antagonisms, etc. But I do not isolate myself from that vast mass of the petty bourgeoisie, the working masses, who are capable of adopting the point of view of the proletariat, of not yearning for compromise, of not being carried away by the consolidation of petty economy in capitalist society, and of not renouncing the struggle against the capitalist system itself.”
Much the same is taking place in Russia, but in different conditions, in a different historical period, on the eve (and not even on the eve, but in the midst) of a bourgeois-democratic and not a socialist revolution. The philistine says to the proletarian: “The reactionaries want to isolate you; you must isolate the reactionaries; don’t repel the enlightened, politically-liberal Cadets who want reforms.” To this the proletarian replies: “In the interests of the genuine struggle for real freedom, I must isolate myself from the advocates of a compromise between the autocracy and the representatives of the people, for these compromisers are advising us to disarm, they are befogging the civic consciousness of the people by their advocacy of ’political peace’ and constitutional illusions. But these compromisers, all these Cadets, are not the people at all, they are not the masses at all, they are not a force at all, as seems to those who give way to the moods and impressions of the moment, and are now shouting about the danger of the proletariat being isolated. The real masses are the revolutionary peasantry and the poorer sections of the town population. From these masses I do not isolate myself; I call upon them to cast off their constitutional illusions,I call upon them to take up the real struggle, I call them to insurrection. In deciding on the moment for the insurrection, I will pay very serious attention to the mood and to the process of political development of these masses (not of the Cadet compromisers); but I will not for a moment forget the revolutionary struggle against the autocracy that is maturing very fast, and will probably break out in the near future, for the sake of momentary successes, for the sake of the tawdry brilliance of Cadet parliamentarism (or rather Dubasov parliamentarism, to put it more correctly).”
In Europe, not so long ago, the flashy and loud-mouthed social-liberal, the petty-bourgeois compromiser, importunately pressed his offers of alliances and agreements upon the proletariat. The intellectual wing of the Social-Democratic parties took the bait, succumbed to the policy of the moment, founded the notorious Bernsteiniad, etc. A year or two passed, the fog of “social peace” was completely dispelled, and the correctness of the position taken up by the revolutionary wing of the Social-Democratic parties, which consistently adhered to the proletarian point of view, became perfectly evident.
In Russia today everybody is intoxicated with the Cadet victories and with the prospect of a Cadet Duma. There is a danger that the intellectual wing of our Party will be fascinated by these brilliant successes and will be taken in by the idea of an election bloc with the Cadets, by the idea of sup porting them, by a policy of “dealing tactfully” with the Cadets. There is a danger that they will be reluctant clearly and distinctly to define from the proletarian point of view the petty-bourgeois class nature of this party, the harmfulness of its constitutional illusions and the constant danger created by its tactics of “compromise”. But in a few years, or perhaps even months, the fog will be dispelled; the views of the revolutionary Social-Democrats will be borne out by reality, and the columns of the Cadet newspapers and magazines will cease to ring with eulogies of certain Social-Democrats, which are offensive to the proletariat and are symptomatic of some disease within the Social-Democratic Party.
VI. Conclusion[edit source]
In discussing the views of Mr. Blank, this highly typical exponent of Cadet policy, we said hardly anything about the views of our Menshevik comrades. But the conclusion to be drawn about their position logically follows from what we have said. The very fact that the Cadets are so effusive in their praise of the Mensheviks shows that the latter must be making some mistake. The Cadet press constitutes nearly nine-tenths of the whole of the political press in Russia at the present time; and if the whole of this bourgeois press is systematically and continuously praising Plekhanov one day, Potresov another day (Nasha Zhizn), and the resolution adopted by all the Mensheviks yet another day, it is a true, if of course indirect, sign that our Menshevik comrades are making, or are about to make, some mistake. It is hardly possible for the public opinion of the whole bourgeois press to diverge very sharply from the class instinct of the bourgeoisie, which is very sensitive to the way the wind is blowing.
But, we repeat, this is only an indirect sign. What we have said above also leads us to a direct formulation of the mistakes that are evident in the draft Menshevik resolutions. This is not the place to examine these resolutions in detail; we can only briefly deal with the most important points, relevant to the question of “the victories of the Cadets and the tasks of the workers’ party”.
The mistake the Mensheviks make is that they do not at all formulate, and evidently have even quite forgotten, such an important political task that now confronts the class-conscious, Social-Democratic proletariat as combating constitutional illusions. The socialist proletariat, strictly adhering to the class point of view, unswervingly applying the materialist conception of history in appraising present conditions, and hostile to all petty-bourgeois sophistries and deceptions, cannot ignore this task in the period Russia is passing through. If it were to ignore this task, it would cease to be the vanguard fighter for complete freedom for the people; it would cease to be the fighter who stands above bourgeois-democratic narrow-mindedness. If it were to ignore this task it would trail helplessly behind events, which are converting these very constitutional illusions into an instrument for the bourgeois corruption of the proletariat, just as the theory of “social peace” lately served in Europe as the principal instrument of the bourgeoisie for diverting the workers from socialism.
Constitutional illusions represent an entire period in the Russian revolution which naturally set in after the suppression of the first armed uprising (which will yet be followed by a second one), and after the Cadets’ election victories. Constitutional illusions are a politically opportunist and bourgeois poison, which the Cadet press, taking advantage of the enforced silence of the socialist newspapers, is pouring into the brains of the people through its millions of copies. We have before us the newspaper Tovarishch, an organ of those Cadets who go among “the people”, and especially among the working class. In its first issue it sings dithyrambs to the Cadets: “In its programme it [the Cadet Party] promises [humph, humph, prom-is-es!] to defend the interests of the peasants [á la Kaufman? I and the workers [why, of course!] and the political rights of all Russian citizens without exception. If it obtains a majority in the State Duma, the present government, which has done so much harm to the people, will have to go, and the state will be administered by new men [the Muravyovs in place of Witte?] who will heed the voice of the people." Yes, yes—heed the voice of the people!... How beautifully those Cadets write
We are sure that there is not a single socialist who will not feel outraged by this shameless bourgeois lie, who will deny that it is absolutely necessary to combat this bourgeois corruption of the working class with the utmost vigour, a corruption which is all the more dangerous because the Cadets have heaps of newspapers, whereas we have not a single one, in spite of our innumerable attempts to start a most mode rate, most restrained and most modest socialist newspaper.
Moreover, there is no denying that this bourgeois lie, this befogging of the revolutionary consciousness of the people, is not an isolated sortie, but a regular campaign. More than that. A Cadet Duma (if the Duma will be Cadet) will be, so to speak, the incarnation of constitutional illusions, their hot bed, the focus of all the most ostentatious aspects of political life (which to the superficial and idealistic mind of the petty bourgeois seem the essence of, or at least the main factor in, contemporary political life). We are faced not merely with a systematic campaign by the whole of the bourgeois press and by all the bourgeois ideologists who are striving to take the proletariat in tow, but with an all-Russian representative institution that is surrounded with the halo of the first “parliament”—if we may call it that —and must perpetuate this transformation of the working class into an appendage of the Cadets. Recall the opinion of the “spheres” that we mentioned above. They said in effect: bow good it would be if the Cadets could win public confidence for the Duma, and make it the centre of all public hopes. The Duma is to serve as a plaster to draw the heat out of the revolution. On this our Cadets are virtually agreed with the Durnovos and Dubasovs. This is a fact. Polyarnaya Zvezda, especially, has proved this very clearly. Methodical and systematic reforms are better than a revolutionary whirlwind in which intellect and reason disappear—say the Blanks. It is better to haggle with the Cadets in the Duma than to fight with unreliable troops against the workers and peasants—say the Durnovos and Dubasovs. Les beaux esprits se rencontrent. Birds of a feather flock together.
Everybody says that we are slandering the liberals. We were called slanderers when, long ago, in Zarya and in the old Iskra, we gave the first issues of Osvobozhdeniye a hostile reception. The slanders turned out to be a Marxist analysis of bourgeois ideology which was wholly confirmed by reality. It will therefore not surprise or grieve us if we are now accused of slandering the party of “people’s freedom”.
Every political period confronts the Social-Democratic Party, as the representative of the only thoroughly revolutionary class, with a particular and specific task which becomes the urgent task of the day, but which is always obscured or pushed into the background in one way or another by the opportunist sections of the bourgeois democrats. The specific political task at the present time—which only the revolutionary Social-Democrats can fulfil, and which they must fulfil if they do not want to betray the lasting, fundamental and vital interests of the proletariat—is to combat constitutional illusions. Petty-bourgeois opportunists are always content with the achievements of the moment, with the gleam of the latest novelty, with momentary “progress”. We, however, must look further and deeper into things, and must point at once and immediately to those aspects of this progress that are the basis and guarantee of retrogression, that express the one-sidedness, narrowness and flimsiness of what has been achieved and make it necessary to continue the fight in other forms and under other conditions.
The more decisive the victory of the Cadets and of the opposition generally in the elections, and the more probable and imminent a Cadet Duma, the more dangerous constitutional illusions become and the more acutely perceptible is the contradiction between the complete maintenance and even intensification of the reactionary policy of the autocracy—which still exercises all power—and “popular” representation. This contradiction is very rapidly creating a new revolutionary crisis, immeasurably wider and deeper, more conscious and acute than all its predecessors. In 1906 we are verily experiencing the reproduction of the revolution, as so me Social-Democrat aptly expressed it. It is as if the history of 1905 were being repeated, starting from the beginning, from the autocracy in full power, going through the stage of public excitement and of a country-wide opposition movement of unprecedented power, and ending with—who knows what? Perhaps with a “reproduction” of the liberal deputation that waited on the tsar last summer, but this time in the form of an address or a resolution of the Cadet Duma; or perhaps a “reproduction” of the autumn upsurge of 1905. It would be ridiculous to attempt to forecast the exact forms and dates of the future steps of the revolution. The important thing is to bear in mind the immeasurably wider sweep of the movement, and the greater political experience of the whole people. The important thing is to remember that what is impending is a revolutionary and not a parliamentary crisis. The “parliamentary” struggle in the Duma is a small stage; indeed, it is a tiny railway station—“Cadet Halt”—on the road from Constitution to Revolution. Owing to the fundamental peculiarities of the present social and political situation, the struggle in the Duma cannot decide the fate of people’s freedom. It cannot be the main form of the struggle, because this “parliament” is admittedly not recognised by either of the combatants—either the Durnovos, Dubasovs and Co. or the proletariat and the peasantry.
And the Social-Democrats, taking all the concrete, specific features of the present historical situation into account, must therefore resolutely recognise and systematically instil into the minds of the workers and politically-conscious peas ants that the main form of social movement in present-day Russia continues to be the directly revolutionary movement of the broad masses of the people, breaking the old laws, destroying the instruments for oppressing the people, winning political power, making new laws. The Duma convened by the Dubasovs and Durnovos, and protected by these worthy gentlemen, will play a very important part in the movement, but will not in any circumstances change its main form. The opposite opinion, already expressed and being spread by the Cadets, is a deception of the people, a petty-bourgeois philistine utopia.
And bound up with this is the question of the bourgeois democrats, and of whether the proletariat should support them or not. On this point, too, the Mensheviks’ resolutions are partly inadequate and partly mistaken. The Cadets are doing their utmost to identify their party with the bourgeois democrats in general, and are claiming that their party is the principal representative of bourgeois democracy. This is a monstrous lie; and all vagueness on the part of Social-Democrats in defining the term “bourgeois democracy” merely serves to foster this lie. We must find a solution for the concrete political problem of supporting the bourgeois demo-. crabs that will be based on an absolutely definite appraisal of specific trends, tendencies and parties among the bourgeois democrats. And the main task of the day in this respect is to separate the revolutionary bourgeois democrats—who, even if they are not quite politically conscious and cling to a number of prejudices and so forth, are capable of waging a resolute and unrelenting struggle against all the remnants of serfdom in Russia—from the liberal monarchists and opportunist bourgeois democrats who are capable of entering into all sorts of deals with the reaction, and who at every critical moment advance their counter-revolutionary aspirations. That there are extremely large numbers of revolutionary democrats in Russia is beyond doubt; their lack of organisation, their non-party character, and the fact that they are crushed by the present reign of terror can mislead only the most superficial and thoughtless observers. It is with these democrats, and only with these, that we must “march separately, but strike together”, with the object of fulfilling the democratic revolution to the very end, and ruthlessly exposing the unreliability of the now “dominant” Cadet Party.
And setting itself the object of carrying through to the end the democratic revolution, the party of the socialist proletariat must be able not only to expose at any time all constitutional illusions, not only to separate the elements capable of struggle from the mass of bourgeois democrats, but also precisely and frankly to define and put clearly before the masses the conditions in which this decisive victory of the revolution can be achieved. It must show the masses, and bring out in all its propaganda and agitation, what precisely this decisive victory of the revolution must mean. Unless we do this (and this our Menshevik comrades have failed to do in their resolutions), all our talk about “carrying through the revolution to the end” will be nothing more than bare and empty phrases.
In his article Mr. Blank refers to the French “Social-Democrats” of 1848-49. Our worthy Cadet does not realise that he is drawing a caricature of himself. It is, after all, the Cadets who today are repeating the mistakes of the French “Social-Democrats”, who in fact were not Social-Democrats, i.e., Marxists, at all. They were not a class party of the workers, but a regular petty-bourgeois party; they were thoroughly permeated with constitutional illusions and with belief in “parliamentary” methods of struggle in all, even revolutionary, circumstances. And that is precisely why in spite of their stupendous, purely “Cadet”, parliamentary successes, they suffered that shameful fiasco which Marx so derided.
And our Party, too—if it were imprudently to enter into all sorts of election blocs, agreements and deals with the Cadets, if it were to leave the task of combating constitutional illusions in the shade, if, in seeking a rapprochement with the bourgeois democrats, it were to identify the latter with their opportunist wing, i.e., the Cadets, and if it were to forget the necessity of seriously preparing for extra-parliamentary methods of struggle in a period like the one we are now passing through—our Party, too, would run the serious risk of meeting with the same deplorable fate as that met with by the French petty-bourgeois, quasi-Social-Democrats in 1848-49.
We have no reason to be envious of the Cadets’ successes. Petty-bourgeois illusions and faith in the Duma are still fairly strong among the people. They must be dispelled. The more complete the Cadets’ triumph in the Duma, the sooner will this be done. We welcome the successes of the Girondists of the great Russian revolution! They will be followed by the rise of broader masses of the people; more energetic and revolutionary sections will come to the fore; they will rally around the proletariat; they will carry our great bourgeois revolution to complete victory, and will usher in the era of socialist revolution in the West.
March 28, 1906
- Dnevnik Sotsial-Demokrata, No. 5.—Lenin
- The Shidlovsky Commission—a government commission appointed by the tsar’s decree on January 29 (February 11), 1905, “to enquire without delay into the causes of discontent among the workers in the city of St. Petersburg and its suburbs” in view of the strike movement that bad followed the “bloody Sunday”, January 9. The Commission was beaded by Senator N. V. Shidlovsky, a member of the Council of State, and included officials, chiefs of government factories, and factory owners. It was also to have included workers’ delegates elected according to a two-stage system. In connection with the elections to the Commission, the Bolsheviks did much to expose the true aims of the government, which hoped the appointment of the Commission would divert the workers from the revolutionary struggle. When the electors demanded from the government freedom of speech, of the press and of assembly, inviolability of the person, etc., Shidlovsky announced, on February 18 (March 3), 1905, that the demands could not be met. Thereupon most of the electors refused to elect delegates, and addressed an appeal to the workers of St. Petersburg, who supported them by going on strike. On February 20 (March 5), 1905, the Commission was dissolved without having started work.
- The reference is to the tsar’s decree of March 8 (21), published on March 11 (24), 1906, during the elections to the First Duma. The decree provided that incitement to boycotting the elections was punishable by four to eight months’ imprisonment.
- See p. 109 of this volume—Ed.
- These lines had been written when I read in Rech, No. 30, of March 24, the following correspondence from Moscow: “So far as one can judge at present, the chances of the Cadets and Right parties at the coming gubernia elections are about equal: the Octobrists (11), the Commercial and Industrial Party (26) and the representatives of the extreme Right parties (13) have a fairly definite total of 50 votes; the Cadets (22), if to them we add the non-party progressives (11) and the workers (17), also have 50. Success in the contest will be deter mined by 9 electors whose sympathies are unknown.”
- There is hardly need to add that by voting for their own Social-Democratic candidate, these two would actually be helping the Black Hundreds. Voting for the Social-Democratic candidate would be tantamount to abstaining, that is to say, to passively retiring from the fight in which the Black Hundreds were heating the Cadets.
P.S. In the text above it was erroneously stated that the gubernia election meeting would not meet yet awhile. It has already met. The Black Hundreds have won, because the peasants could not come to terms with the Cadets. Incidentally, the same issue of Nasha Zhizn from which we obtained this information (No. 405, March 28) says: “The newspaper Put reports from a reliable source that many Menshevik Social-Democrats took an active part in the elections (in Moscow) yesterday, and voted for the people’s ’freedom ticket’.” Is this true?—Lenin
- Russkiye Vedomosti (Russian Recorder)—a daily paper published in Moscow from 1863 on by liberal professors of Moscow University and Zemstvo leaders. It represented the interests of liberal landlords and bourgeoisie. In 1905 it became a Right Cadet paper. After the October Revolution it was closed along with other counter-revolutionary newspapers.
Lenin borrowed the data on the electors from the item “The Elections”, published in Russkiye Vedomosti, No. 76, on March 19 (April 1), 1906. P· 210
- Among the Lefts we include the Social-Democrats (2), Cadets (304), Party of Democratic Reforms (4), the progressive trend (59), the moderate liberals (17), the Jewish Equality League (3) and the Polish nationalists (7). Among the Right we include the Octobrists (124), Commercial and Industrial Party (51),Constitutional Monarchists (7), Party of Law and Order (5), the Right (49) and monarchists (54).—Lenin
- Molva of March 22 wrote: “It is no secret that nobody expects any constructive work from this Duma, and many of those who are voting for the Cadets disagree with their programme; they are merely imposing upon them the sacred and arduous duty of cleaning out the accumulated filth of years from our Augean stables, or in other words, from the government.” —Lenin
- The St. Petersburg elections, in which all the 160 electors re turned were Cadets, only serve to bring out more distinctly what has been noted in the elections in many other parts of the country. This is the real significance of the St. Petersburg elections.—Lenin
- It is interesting to note the admission of Rus that one of the reasons for the Cadets’ victory was that they allowed the “Left” to attend their meetings. Mr. S. A—ch, in Molva, No. 18 (March 22), writes as follows: “This party [the Cadets] gained quite a deal in the eyes of the voters also from the fact that it allowed representatives of the extreme Left parties to attend its meetings, and victoriously entered into debate with them.” Mr. A—ch may have his opinion about the Cadets’ victories in debate with us. We are quite satisfied with the results of the contests between the Social-Democrats and the Cadets at the meetings in St. Petersburg in March 1906. Some day impartial people who attend ed those meetings will say who were the victors.—Lenin
- Judas Golovlyov—a sanctimonious, hypocritical serf-owner described in M. Saltykov-Shchedrin’s The Golovlyov Family.
- Polyarnaya Zvezda (The Pole Star)—a weekly magazine of the Right wing of the Cadet Party, published in St. Petersburg in 1905-06 and edited by P. B. Struve. In April and May 1906, the Cadets published Svoboda i Kultura (Freedom and Culture) instead of Polyarnaya Zvezda.
- The Second Congress of the Constitutional-Democratic (Cadet) Party took place in St. Petersburg on January 5-11 (18-24), 1906. On the issue of Party tactics, the Congress resolved to approve “as a declaration of the Party” the report which M. M. Vinaver delivered to the Congress on January 11 (24). The fundamental thesis of the declaration was recognition of the political strike as a peaceful means of fighting against the government. The declaration said that the Party considered the chief field of its activity to be “an organised representative assembly”, that is, the Duma. The Congress virtually took a stand for a deal with the government.
- The reference is to the puppets in Saltykov-Shchedrin’s tale of that name. Izuverov, the skilful craftsman who made them, said: “They have no wits or deeds or desires. All they have instead is a semblance.”
- Skitalets, “Silence Reigns”.“The strings are broken; song, be silent now! All we had to say we said before the fray. The dragon, dying monster, has come to life again; the clash of swords has drowned the thrum of strings.... Silence reigns; the familiar sounds of life are stilled in this gruesome night. The vanquished, down below, are sharpening their swords; above, the victor lies a-weary. The sated beast is old and feeble. There, down below, he sees something new a-foot; the old door is trembling and shaking; the giant is breaking his chains.”—Lenin
- Under a treaty signed between the tsarist and the French governments in April 1906, the former was granted a lean of 843 million rubles to suppress the revolution in Russia.
- This refers to the article “Revelation of the Circumstances Attending the Events of March 1st”, which M. N. Katkov, a reactionary publicist, contributed to Moskovskiye Vedomosti, No. 65, on March 6 (18), 1881.
- Like those of Mr. Kiesewetter, who has discovered that “dictatorship” in Latin means reinforced security.—Lenin
- I may he told that this is a lie; that it was simply nonsense blurted out by the loquacious Molva. But excuse me, I think it is true. The loquacious Molva blurted out the truth—of course, the approximate, not literal, absolute truth. How can this dispute be settled? By reference to Cadet statements? But in politics I don’t believe in words. Cadet deeds? Yes, I would accept that criterion. And whoever inquires into the political conduct of the Cadets as a whole, will have to admit that what Molva has said is, in the main, true.—Lenin
- Speaks out what exists.—Ed.
- Mr. Berdayev! Messrs. editors of Polyarnaya Zvezda or Svoboda Kultura![a] Here is another subject for your lengthy lamentations— I mean, for lengthy articles against the “hooliganism” of revolutionaries. Fancy, they dare to call Tolstoi a philistine!! “Quelle horreur!”—as the lady with many good points[b] used to say.—Lenin[a] Svoboda i Kultura (Freedom and Culture)—a weekly magazine of the Right wing of the Cadet Party. It was published in St. Petersburg instead of Polyarnaya Zvezda from April 1 (14) to May 31 (June 13), 1906. Its editor was S. L. Frank, with P. B. Struve as a close associate. Eight issues appeared in all. The publication was suspended due to a sharp drop in circulation.
[b] The lady with many good points— a character in Gogol’s Dead Souls.
- Bez Zaglavia (Without Title)—a political weekly published in St. Petersburg from January 24 (February 6) to May 14 (27), 1906. Its editor was S. N. Prokopovich, with Y. D. Kuskova, V. Y. Bogucharsky, V. V. Khizhnyakov and others as his associates. The Bez Zaglavia group was made up of Russian bourgeois intellectuals with semi-Cadet and semi-Menshevik leanings. Under cover of their formal non-partisanship, they advocated bourgeois liberalism and opportunism, and backed the revisionists among the Social-Democrats in Russia and abroad.
- Compare, for example, the views of Russkiye Vedomosti, No.1, 1906, on the activities of the Peasant Union—which is nothing less than a denunciation to Dubasov of the revolutionary democrats, of their Pugachev aspirations,[a] of their approval of the idea of seizing the land and of establishing a new government, and so forth. Even the Left Cadets of Bez Zaglavia (No. 10) admonished Russkiye Vedomosti, and rightly put it on a par with Moskovskiye Vedomosti, for publishing such views. Unfortunately, the Left Cadets admonish Russkiye Vedomosti in a tone that sounds like an apology. Bez Zaglavia defends the Peasant Union, hut does not accuse the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. Whether this not altogether decent method of controversy with Russkiye Vedomosti is due to its “fear of the Jews”, or to the fact that Mr. Blank writes for that paper, I cannot say. The Left Cadets are, after all, Cadets.—Lenin[a] Yemelyan Pugachev (1742?-1775)—leader of the war which Russia’s peasants waged against feudal tyranny in 1773-75.
- In March 1885, during the Reichstag debate on government subsidies to private business for the establishment of regular steamship services to East Asia, Australia and Africa, a majority of the Social-Democratic Group (the Right wing, which virtually supported Bismarck’s colonial policy) voted for an East-Asian and an Australian line. It also promised its support for other lines, provided all new ships were built in Germany It was not until alter the Reichstag had rejected this condition that the whole group voted against granting any subsidy The conduct of the group majority was denounced by Social-Democratic organisations. Engels condemned the opportunist stand of the Reichstag group.
- The “Youth” were a petty-bourgeois group that arose in 1890 among the German Social-Democrats. The group consisted chiefly of university students who had broken off their studies and of young writers (which accounted tom the name of the group). It advanced a platform rejecting all Social-Democratic participation in the Reichstag. The Erfurt Congress, held in October 1891, expelled the group from the Party
- Bernsteiniad (Bernsteinianism)—an anti-Marxist trend in inter national Social-Democracy. It arose at the end of the nineteenth century in Germany and was so named after the German Social-Democrat Eduard Bernstein, an opportunist. After Frederick Engels’s death Bernstein undertook an open revision of the revolutionary theory of Marx in the spirit of bourgeois liberalism, and sought to turn the Social-Democratic Party into a petty-bourgeois party advocating social reforms.
- Severny Golos (The Voice of the North)—a legal daily newspaper of the RSDLP, published in St. Petersburg from December 6 (19), 1905 onwards and edited jointly by the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. It was closed with issue No. 3 on December 8 (21), 1905. Nash Golos (Our Voice), published once—on December 18 (31), 1905—was its continuation.
- Nachalo (The Beginning)—a legal Menshevik daily, published in St. Petersburg from November 13 (26) to December 2 (15), 1905. Altogether 16 issues were brought out.
- These words are in English in the original.—Ed.
- Of course, not being a class organisation, the Peasant Union also contains elements of disintegration. The more imminent the victory of the peasant uprising and the fuller that victory, the more imminent will be the disintegration of this Union. But up to the victory of the peasant uprising, and for such a victory, the Peasant Union is a mighty and viable organisation. Its function will cease with the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, whereas the function of the proletarian organisations at that moment will he particularly important and vital in the struggle for socialism. But the function of the Cadet organisations is to hamper the complete victory of the bourgeois revolution, to excel in the preparatory periods of that revolution, in the periods of depression, stagnation and Dubasov rule. In other words, the peasantry will be victorious in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and then cease to be revolutionary as a peasantry. The proletariat will be victorious in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and only thereby will fully develop its true, genuine, socialist revolutionary nature. But the Cadet petty bourgeoisie will cease to be an opposition on the very next day after constitutional illusions are dispelled.—Lenin
- See my article in Novaya Zhizn: “The Socialist Party and Non-Party Revolutionism”. (See pp. 75-82 of this volume.—Ed.)—Lenin
- See Frederick Engels, “Marx and the Neue Rheinische Zeitung (1848-49)” (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1958, pp. 328-37), and Frederick Engels, “Revolution and Counter Revolution in Germany”, VII. “The Frankfort National Assembly”, New York Daily Tribine, 1852. Articles from the Neue Rheinisehe Zeitung, June 1-November 7, 1848 (Marx, Engels, Werke, Bd. 5, Berlin, 1959).
- F. Engels, Die preuβische Militärfrage und die deutsche Arbeiterpartei, Hamburg, 1865; Marx and Engels, “To the Editorial Board of the Social-Demokrat” (see Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, p. 201); F. Engels, “Notizen zur Broschüre: Die preuβische Militärfrage und die deutsche Arbetterpartei” (Berliner Reform, Nr. 53, 1865); K. Marx, “Rezension von Engels’ Broschüre: Die preuβische Militärfrage und die deutsche Arbeiterpartei” (Hermann, März 18, 1865); K. Marx, “Erklärung vom März 18, 1865” (Berliner Reform, Nr. 67, 1865).
- Rus and Molva. —Lenin
- P. Milyukov, “The Elements or the Conflict”, in Rech, No. 30, March 24—the extremely interesting credo of a compromiser.—Lenin
- Riman, N. K. (1864-1917)—colonel of the tsarist army who was in command of a punitive expedition on the Moscow-Kazan Railway during the suppression of the Moscow armed uprising in December 1905.
Luzhenovsky, G. N. (1870-1906)—one of the organisers of Black-Hundred pogroms in 1905-06, notorious for the cruel suppression of the peasants’ revolutionary movement in the Tambov region. He was assassinated by the Socialist-Revolutionaries in 1906.
- Tovarishch (Comrade)—a daily bourgeois newspaper published in St. Petersburg from March 15 (28), 1906, to December 30, 1907 (January 12, 1908). Closely associated with it were S. N. Prokopovich and Y. D. Kuskova.
Though not the official organ of any party, the paper served as the mouthpiece of the Left Cadets. Its contributors included Mensheviks.
- Bourgeois liberalism, which subsequently grouped itself as a political trend round the magazine Osvobozhdeniye, was criticised by Lenin in his article “The Persecutors of the Zemstvo and the Hannibals of Liberalism”, published in Zarya, Nos. 2 and 3, in 1901 (see present edition, Vol. 5, pp. 31-80). The early issues of Osvobozhdeniye were criticised in Lenin’s articles “The Draft of a New Law on Strikes”, “Political Struggle and Political Chicanery” and “Mr. Struve Exposed by His Colleague”, published in Iskra (see present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 217, 253 and 354).
- See Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France 1848 to 1850 (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1958, pp. 139-242).
- The Girondists—a bourgeois political group during the French bourgeois revolution. They represented the interests of the bourgeois moderates, and vacillated between revolution and counter revolution, pursuing a policy of compromise with the monarchy.