V. I. Lenin



Sotsial-Demokrat, No. 26,
May 8 (April 25), 1912

Published according to
the text in Sotsial-Demokrat

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1968

First printing 1963
Second printing 1968

Vol. 18, pp. 17-21.

Translated from the Russian by Stepan Apresyan
Edited by Clemens Dutt

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,
 (May 2002)

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      [1] This refers to the shooting of unarmed workers in the Lena gold-fields, Siberia, on April 4 (17), 1912.
        The gold-fields were owned by British capitalists, and their partners were Russian capitalists, members of the tsar's family, and tsarist dignitaries. The owners made a profit of about 7,000,000 rubles annually. The gold-fields being situated in a region of taiga forests, almost 2,000 kilometres from the Siberian Railway, the capitalists and their helpers committed the worst excesses: they paid the workers niggardly wages for their back-breaking toil, supplied them with rotten food, and outraged the workers' wives and children. Unable to bear the oppression and outrages any longer, the workers went on strike early in March 1912. The strike was led by the Bolshevik group formed in the gold-fields in the autumn of 1911. On March 4 (17), 1912, a central strike committee was elected with the Bolsheviks occupying a leading position on it. The demands to be presented to the management included: an eight-hour working day, a 10 to 30 per cent wage increase, abolition of fines, organisation of medical aid, improvement of food and living quarters, etc. The Board of Lenzoto (Lena Gold-Mining Company) rejected these demands and decided to dismiss the strikers, stop supplying them with food on credit and evict them from the gold-fields barracks, which meant dooming the workers and their families to death by starvation. The workers did not allow the police to carry out the evictions. The strikers held their ground and resisted all attempts at provocation and intimidation. The strike was peaceful and organised.
        At the instance [insistence? -- DJR] of influential British and Russian shareholders of the company, the tsarist authorities decided to use arms against the strikers in order to intimidate workers in Russia. During the night of April 3-4 (16-17) some of the members of the Central Strike Committee were arrested. In reply, on April 4 (17) about 3,000 workers marched to the Nadezhda Mine to lodge a complaint against the unlawful actions of the authorities and hand the Procurator a petition for the release of those arrested. Captain Treshchenkov of the gendarmerie ordered his men to open fire, with the result that 270 workers were killed and 250 injured.
        The news of the bloody drama on the Lena aroused the furious indignation of the workers throughout Russia. Protest demonstrations, meetings and strikes took place all over the country. The Social-Democratic Duma group interpellated the government on

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    the Lena shootings. The insolent reply of the tsar's Minister Makarov -- "So it was and so it will be!" -- added to the workers' indignation. Strikes protesting against the Lena shootings involved about 300,000 workers. They merged with the May Day strikes in which about 400,000 workers took part. "The Lena shootings," Lenin pointed out, "led to the revolutionary temper of the masses developing into a revolutionary upswing of the masses. " (See p. 103 of this volume.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "The Revolutionary Upswing". -- DJR])    [p. 17]

      [2] The Duma was a representative assembly which the tsarist government was forced to convene as a result of the revolutionary events of 1905. Nominally it was a legislative body but it had no real authority. Elections to the Duma were neither direct, nor equal, nor universal. In the case of the working classes, as well as of the non-Russian nationalities of the country, the suffrage was greatly curtailed, a considerable section of the workers and peasants lacking any voting rights. Under the electoral law of December 11 (24), 1905, one landlord vote was made equivalent to three votes cast by representatives of the urban bourgeoisie, 15 peasant votes and 45 votes cast by workers.
        The First and Second Dumas (April-July 1906 and February-June 1907, respectively) were dissolved by the tsarist government. On June 3, 1907, the government carried out a coup d'état and issued a new electoral law which still further curtailed the rights of the workers, peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie and guaranteed the complete supremacy of the reactionary bloc of the landlords and big capitalists in the Third and Fourth Dumas (1907-12 and 1912-17).    [p. 17]

      [3] The Taurida (Tavrichesky) Palace was the building in which the Duma held its sessions from 1906 to 1917.
        Kazanskaya Square -- in front of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg -- was the scene of frequent revolutionary demonstrations.    [p. 17]

      [4] See pp. 151-52 of this volume.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "The Situation in the R.S.D.L.P. and the Immediate Tasks of the Party". -- DJR]    [p. 17]

      [5] Russkoye Bogatstvo (Russian Wealth ) -- a monthly published in St. Petersburg from 1876 to the middle of 1918. In the early 1890s it became a liberal Narodnik organ. In 1906 it virtually became the mouthpiece of the semi-Cadet Popular Socialist Party.    [p. 17]

      [6] Sovremennik (The Contemporary ) -- a literary and political monthly published in St. Petersburg from 1911 to 1915, around which were grouped Menshevik liquidators, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Popular Socialists and Left liberals. It had no links with the masses of the workers. In 1914 Lenin described its trend as a hybrid of Narodism and Marxism.    [p. 17]

      [7] Black Hundreds -- monarchist bands which the tsarist police formed to combat the revolutionary movement. They murdered revo-

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    lutionaries, attacked progressive intellectuals and organised anti-Jewish pogroms.    [p. 18]

      [8] Zaprosy Zhizni (Demands of Life ) -- a weekly published in St. Petersburg from 1909 to 1912. Contributors to it were Cadets, Popular Socialists and Menshevik liquidators. Lenin called it a "liquidationist-Trudovik-Vekhi" periodical.    [p. 18]

      [9] Rasputin, G. Y. (1872-1916) -- an adventurer who enjoyed great influence at the Court of Nicholas II. "Rasputinism" most strikingly expressed the obscurantism, fanaticism and moral decay typical of the ruling upper stratum of tsarist Russia.
        Treshchenkov, N. V. (1875-1915) -- Captain of Gendarmerie, one of those who led the shooting of the Lena gold-miners in April 1912.    [p. 19]

      [10] This refers to Article 129 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Empire, which envisaged severe punishment, including penal servitude, for public actions and dissemination of writings against the tsarist system.    [p. 19]

      [11] R-kov, N. A. Rozhkov -- historian, Social-Democrat, one of the Menshevik liquidators.    [p. 19]

      [12] Zhivoye Dyelo (Vital Cause ) -- a legal daily newspaper published by the Menshevik liquidators in St. Petersburg in 1912. Sixteen issues appeared.    [p. 20]

      [13] Lenin is referring to the "initiating groups of Social-Democratic functionaries of the open working-class movement " which the Menshevik liquidators formed from the end of 1910 onwards as a counter to the illegal Party organisations. The liquidators regarded those groups as nuclei of the new, broad legal party they were advocating, a party within the framework of the June Third, Stolypin regime. They succeeded in forming "initiating groups" in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Yekaterinoslav and Konstantinovka (Donets coal-field) in the shape of small groups of intellectuals dissociated from the working class. These groups opposed the strike movement and revolutionary demonstrations of the workers, and fought against the Bolsheviks in the Fourth Duma elections. The guiding centres of the "initiating groups" were Golos Sotsial-Demokrata which the liquidators published abroad, and Nasha Zarya and Dyelo Zhizni, legal liquidationist organs published in Russia.    [p. 20]

      [14] Dobrolyubov, N. A. (1836-1861) -- outstanding Russian revolutionary democrat, literary critic and materialist philosopher, one of the forerunners of Russian Social-Democracy.    [p. 20]

      [15] Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn ) -- a legal monthly published by the Menshevik liquidators in St. Petersburg from 1910 to 1914. It was the centre for the liquidationist movement in Russia.    [p. 20]