Wavering Above, Determination Below
|Written||9 June 1906|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, pages 17-19.
It is quite evident that we are now passing through one of the most important periods of the revolution. Signs of a revival of the broad, mass movement against the old order have been visible for a long time. Now this revival is reaching its climax. The Duma elections and the first week of the sessions and activities of the opposition Duma acted as a “farthing dip” which ignited the conflagration throughout the country. The quantity of inflammatory material was still so vast, and the atmosphere was still so “heated”, that no precautionary measures could be of any avail.
And now it is becoming absolutely obvious to everyone that the conflagration has really spread throughout the country. The rising has spread to quite new strata, both of the proletariat—including even those who only six months ago provided recruits for the Black Hundreds—and, particularly, of the peasantry. The army, which is connected with the most backward sections of the peasantry, and whose ranks are carefully combed so as to get rid of, destroy and suppress all that is fresh and virile—even the army has proved to be almost entirely engulfed in the flames. News of “revolts” and outbreaks among the armed forces is flying in from all sides, like sparks from a great fire.
Newspaper reporters who have some connection with the bureaucracy report that the Minister of War has uttered a warning against dissolving the Duma, for in that case he could not rely upon the army.
Under these circumstances, it is no wonder the government is wavering. It is true nevertheless that, although wavering, the government is preparing very definitely to crush the revolution by bloodshed. Provocation is increasing. A war to the death has been declared on the free press. The Left newspapers “are being confiscated in defiance of all laws”. Kronstadt is inundated with special troops. The pogrom in Belostok marked the opening of counter-revolutionary operations, and armed operations at that. The government is wavering; warning voices are heard from its ranks, voices recommending a deal with the Cadets. But this wavering, this “pause for reflection”, is not causing the government for a moment to forget the old, customary, and well-tried policy of naked violence.
Lassalle said that reactionaries are business-like people. Our reactionaries are proving that this is true. They are reflecting, weighing things up, wavering, in doubt as to whether to start a general offensive on the new line (i.e., by dissolving the Duma) at once, or not. But they are preparing for an offensive, and are not pausing in this “business” for a single moment. From the point of view of robbers around whose necks the noose is being drawn ever tighter, they are reasoning correctly. Shall we yield to the Cadets, who promise a “strong government”, or take reprisals by fire and sword? Their decision today is: we need be in no hurry to adopt the first alternative, that can be done at any time in the future; but in any case we must prepare to adopt the second alternative. No doubt many of them also reason in the following way: let us first try the second alternative and choose the most opportune moment for it. We can yield to the Cadets at the last moment, when we are absolutely convinced that it is impossible to restore everything by whole sale bloodshed!
As robbers, they are reasoning quite correctly. Obviously, they will not surrender without a desperate and ruthless fight. Meanwhile, of course, they are preparing a line of retreat—in case things turn out badly—in the shape of a deal with the Cadets, an alliance with them on the platform of the “strong government” about which Mr. Struve so opportunely reminds them. The reactionaries are preparing for a stern and decisive battle, and they regard a deal with the Cadets as a minor result of an unsuccessful battle.
The proletariat must weigh up the tasks of the revolution soberly and squarely. As regards handling big problems, it is no less “business-like” than the reactionaries. It must concentrate all its attention, all its cares and all its efforts on the decisive battle inevitable tomorrow or the day after— and regard a deal between the government and the Cadets as a by-product of one of the possible stages of the revolution. The proletariat has nothing to fear from such a deal; both the Trepovs and the moderate liberals will come to grief over it. But the proletariat must not under any circumstances, directly or indirectly, support such a deal, support the demand for a responsible Cabinet representing the majority in the Duma. We need not now prevent this deal; but we shall not support it. We shall pursue our own road. We shall continue to be the party of the advanced class, which will not issue to the masses a single ambiguous slogan, which will not, directly or indirectly, have any truck whatever with any of the sordid dealings of the bourgeoisie, and which will be able to protect the interests of the revolution under all circumstances, whatever the outcome of the struggle.
A compromise between the government and the Duma is by no means impossible as one of the specific episodes of the revolution. The Social-Democrats must neither advocate, support nor “shatter” such a compromise at the present time. They must concentrate all their attention, and the attention of the masses, on the main and essential thing and not on secondary and side issues. They will take the utmost advantage of every compromise between the bourgeoisie and the old regime, of all the wavering above. But they will consistently warn the working class and the peasantry against the “friendship” of the Cadets. To the wavering above they must oppose invincible determination below and, not yielding to provocation, must firmly and persistently gather their forces for the decisive moment.