on its decisions -- Mr. V. Vodovozov's article on "The Election Programme of the Trudovik Group" in No. 13 of the St. Petersburg weekly Zaprosy Zhizni, whose closest contributors include Messrs. Kovalevsky and Blank. Mr. Vodovozov's commentary is "splendid", not from our point of view, of course, but because it correctly represents the views and aspirations of the Trudoviks. Everyone interested in the role of the democratic social forces in Russia must pay due attention to Mr. Vodovozov's article.
"The Trudovik group," he writes, "proceeds from the belief that at the present historical moment the interests of the peasantry, the working class and the working intelligentsia, far from contradicting each other, are practically identical, therefore, one party could fully take care of the interests of these three classes of society. But, owing to the force of historical conditions, the working class found its representation in the Social-Democratic Party, and that is why the Trudovik group necessarily had to become primarily the political representative of the peasantry. And such it has been."
Here we see at a glance the fundamental mistake shared by all the Narodniks, including those who are the most "left". They proceed from a "belief" which contradicts all the maxims of economic science and the entire experience of countries which have gone through epochs resembling the present epoch in Russia. They cling to these "beliefs" even when the experience of Russian history compels them to admit that in our country, too, these beliefs are refuted by the course of events.
The Trudoviks' second phrase contradicts their first. If one party could have taken care of the interests both of the working class and the peasantry, what could have given rise to a separate party of the working class? Since such a party was created and became consolidated during a particularly important and particularly crucial period of Russian history (1905), and since even the Trudoviks have to admit that the working class "found" its party "owing to the force of historical conditions", this, consequently, means that
the "beliefs" of the Trudoviks have been refuted by "the force of historical conditions".
If the Trudoviks have turned out to be a party of the peasantry, although, according to their own beliefs, they ought not to be a party only of the peasantry, their beliefs must be wrong, must be an illusion. And it is the same sort of illusion as the one entertained by all bourgeois-democratic parties of Europe in the period of the struggle against feudalism and absolutism. In one form or another, the idea of a "non-class party" dominated, but the "force of historical conditions" invariably refuted this idea and shattered this illusion. The attempts or efforts to include different classes in "one party" have always been characteristic of bourgeois democracy at the time when it had to look for its main enemy in the past, not in the future -- when it saw its enemy in the feudal lords, not in the proletariat.
The claim to "encompass" various classes makes the Trudoviks akin to the Cadets. The latter, too, want to be a party standing above classes, they also insist that the interests of the working class, the peasantry and the working intelligentsia are "practically identical". And when they speak of the working intelligentsia, they include the Maklakovs too! The class-conscious workers will always combat the various concepts of parties that stand above classes, against every attempt to gloss over the gulf between the class of wage-workers and the class of the petty proprietors.
The Trudoviks resemble the Cadets in sharing bourgeois illusions as to the possibility of fusing the different classes. The difference between them lies in the class to which the particular party will be drawn under the influence of events, against the wishes of that party and sometimes in spite of the ideas entertained by some of its members. The Trudoviks have been taught by history to keep closer to the truth, to call themselves a peasant party. The Cadets continue to call themselves democrats, although in actual fact they are counter-revolutionary liberals.
Unfortunately, the Trudoviks are far from being aware of the latter truth -- so much so that in the official decisions of their conference they failed to give any characterisation of the Cadets. All we read in the official resolutions is that agreements should be concluded "in the first place
with the Social-Democrats, and subsequently with the Constitutional-Democrats". This is insufficient. The question of election agreements can be settled correctly, consistently, and in a principled manner, only if there exists complete clarity as to the class nature of the parties concluding the agreement, as to what constitutes their fundamental divergence, and on what points their interests temporarily coincide.
These matters are dealt with only in Mr. Vodovozov's commentary. Rech, which noted and discussed that article, took care to leave its readers entirely in the dark with regard to these very points. In our opinion, these points ought to be dwelt on with all due attention.
"The Trudovik group," writes Mr. Vodovozov, "is fully aware that the present regime in Russia is a regime of absolutism and arbitrary rule; that is why it has emphatically disapproved of all the actions and steps taken by the Constitutional-Democratic Party to proclaim urbi et orbi [*] that in Russia we have a constitutional regime, and why it has assumed a negative attitude to the solemn receptions given to the representatives of the British and French Parliaments as a demonstration of Russian constitutionalism. The Trudovik group has never doubted that only a radical and profound revolution in the entire political and social system can lead Russia on to the highroad of proper and sound development; that is why it has been in sympathy with all expressions of such convictions in our public life. It is this conviction that has implied the existence of a deep gulf between it and the Constitutional-Democratic Party. . . ." Further on the author repeats the same idea about "the peaceful evolutionism of the Cadets and Cadet tactics produced by this evolutionism", "owing to which the Trudoviks have always been farther removed from the Constitutional-Democrats than from the Social-Democrats".
It is obvious why the Cadet Rech was obliged to take care to withhold these reflections from its readers. For these reflections represent a clearly expressed desire to draw a line between democratism and liberalism. The line is unquestionably there, but Mr. Vodovozov, although he speaks
* Far and wide. --Ed.
of a "deep gulf", has a very shallow conception of this line. According to him, the difference, at bottom, is one of tactics and of the appraisal of the situation: the Trudoviks are in favour of a radical revolution, while the Cadets are peaceful evolutionists; according to the Trudoviks the regime in Russia is one of absolutism, according to the Cadets we have, thank God, a constitution. Such differences may exist between the Right and the Left wings of the same class.
Are these all the differences there are between the Trudoviks and the Cadets? Has not Mr. Vodovozov himself admitted that the Trudoviks are a party of the peasantry? If we take the class position of the peasantry in relation, say, to Purishkevich and Purishkevichism, are there no features that distinguish this position from that of the liberal bourgeoisie?
If there are no such distinguishing features, then there is no profound difference between the Trudoviks and the Cadets even in their attitude to feudalism and absolutism. If there are such distinguishing features, then it is the difference of class interests, and not the difference of "opinion" on absolutism and the Constitution or on peaceful evolution, that must be stressed.
The Trudoviks want to be more radical than the Cadets. That is very good. But their radicalism would be more consistent and profound if they had a clear idea of the class essence of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, if they plainly referred in their platform to the counter-revolutionary liberalism of the Cadets.
It is therefore in vain that Mr. Vodovozov tries to "justify" himself by pleading external obstacles owing to which, he claims, the Trudoviks "were obliged to draft a resolution in which the most essential points were concealed behind a reference, one not very intelligible to most readers, to the 'platform of the Trudovik group', which is hardly accessible to them". But, to begin with, the Trudoviks were not obliged to confine themselves to the arena fenced off by such obstacles; by confining themselves to this arena, they, just like our liquidators, are betraying how little they differ from the Cadets. Secondly, it was always possible, no matter what the arena, to formulate the class essence of the Cadet liberalism and its counter-revolutionary nature.
Thus we see that the vacillations of the Trudoviks between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats are not fortuitous, but the result of very profound and fundamental conditions, those under which the peasantry has to live. The intermediary position of aloofness from the direct fight between the bourgeois and the proletarian nourishes illusions about a party that stands outside or above classes. What brings the Trudoviks and the Cadets close to one another are the common bourgeois prejudices characteristic both of the big and the small proprietor. Hence, as bourgeois democrats, the Trudoviks lack consistency even in their struggle against the foundations of the power of the Purishkeviches.
The task of the class-conscious workers is to help rally the forces of the peasant democracy, those who are least dependent on the liberals and least liable to yield to their influence, those who are most consistent and determined. Such is the condition of the vast mass of the peasantry that the striving for "a radical and profound revolution", as formulated by Mr. Vodovozov, has extremely strong, widely ramified and deep-seated roots.