V. I. Lenin
AN INCREASING DISCREPANCY
NOTES OF A PUBLICIST
Written on February 6-9 (19-22), 1913
Published in Prosveshcheniye Nos. 3 and 4,
March and April 1913 Signed: V. Ilyin
Published according to the magazine text
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,Progress
Publishers, Moscow, 1968
First printing 1963 Second printing 1968
Vol. 18, pp. 562-79.
Translated from the Russian by Stepan Apresyan Edited by Clemens Dutt
for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,firstname.lastname@example.org (June
Recently the Cadet deputies conferred again with local leaders of that
As might have been expected, they discussed the features of the present
political situation. The liberals appraised the situation as follows:
"Attention was drawn to the increasing discrepancy between the country's
requirements for basic legislation and the impossibility of meeting them under
the present system of legislative institutions and in view of the present
attitude of the authorities towards popular representation."
The style is as tangled as a ball of wool with which a kitten has been
playing for a long time. Our poor liberals -- they have nowhere to express their
But take a closer look: the trouble is not so much that the liberals have
nowhere to talk as that they have nothing to say. The discrepancy
is growing not only between the country's requirements and the hopelessness of
the "present system", etc., but also between the country's requirements and the
Why is it impossible for you, liberal politicians, to meet the
requirements of the country? The Cadets reply: because the present system of
legislative institutions and the present attitude of the authorities towards
popular representation hinder it.
Consequently, we need a different system and a different attitude of the
authorities. We shall see in what way
they must be different when we analyse in subsequent articles the "four
theses" of the Cadet meeting.
But we must first put the main question: What is the reason for the
"present" "system and attitude"? Where could anything different come
from? The Cadets did not even think of it! Their reticence on this
fundamental question amounts to hardened, Asiatic philistinism, like saying
that there were bad advisers but there can be good advisers.
Is there no connection, Cadet gentlemen, between the "present" and the
interests of some class, such as the class of the big landlords? Or
the richest section of the bourgeoisie? Is not there complete accord
between the "present" and the interests of definite classes ? Is it not
clear that any one who sets about discussing the political situation without
taking into account the relations between all the classes engages in useless
Alas! The Cadets have nothing but empty talk to cover up the "increasing
discrepancy" between their policy and the requirements of the country.
Our liberals in general -- and they are followed by the liberal labour
politicians (liquidators) -- like to talk at length about the "Europeanisation"
of Russia. A tiny little truth serves here as a cover for a big untruth.
There can be no doubt that Russia, speaking generally, is becoming
Europeanised, i.e., reorganised in the image of Europe (moreover, in "Europe" we
should now include Japan and China, in spite of geography). But this
Europeanisation has been going on since Alexander II, or perhaps even since
Peter the Great; it went on not only during the upswing (1905), but also
during reaction (1908-11); it has been going on in the police and among the
Markov-type landlords, who are "Europeanising" their methods of fighting the
The catchword "Europeanisation" turns out to be so general that it serves
to obscure matters, to obscure urgent political issues.
The liberals want a Europeanised Russia. But the Council of the United
Nobility, too, sought Europeanisation by its law of November 9, 1906
(June 14, 1910).
The liberals want a European constitution. But the constitutions
established in various countries of Europe were the result of long and strenuous
class struggles between feudalism and absolutism, on the one hand, and the
bourgeoisie, the peasantry and the workers, on the other. Written and unwritten
constitutions, with which the liberals "shame" our reactionaries, are merely a
record of the results of struggle obtained through a series of hard-won
victories of the new over the old and a series of defeats inflicted on the new
by the old.
The liberals want the results to make their appearance in our country
without the sum total of advantages and disadvantages of which the results
consist! The liberal programme and liberal tactics amount to this: let a
European way of life take shape in our country without the hard struggle
which brought it into being in Europe!
It is understandable that our Kobylinskys greet the liberals' wishes and
arguments with contemptuous sallies against "shopkeepers" and "muzhiks". "You
want, liberal gentlemen," say the Kobylinskys, "to register on paper victories
that you have not yet won in reality."
The Cadet meeting approved four theses on tactics.. The first reads:
"The tactic of united action by the entire opposition front, while being
a necessary condition for the execution of the Duma's current business, does
not, however, guarantee either the securing of a solid and lasting majority in
the Duma for the Bills of the opposition or the actual realisation of the Bills
whose adoption in the Duma the opposition could secure, with the aid of the Duma
Translated into plain Russian, this gibberish means the following:
It is only with the Octobrists that the liberals can form a majority in
the Duma. Such a majority is not permanent and its decisions are not put into
effect. Quite so. But this leads to the conclusion that to call those
decisions "necessary", "current" and "business" (!??) is to deceive oneself and
In defeating the Rights by voting with the Octobrists, we must not adopt
the standpoint of legislating in the Fourth Duma, must not sow constitutional
illusions -- that is what the Cadets should have said to the people had they
wanted to be democrats, not in words alone.
The first "thesis" of the Cadet meeting is strikingly illogical. It
describes as "business" the approval by an inconstant and unstable majority in
the Fourth Duma of Bills that are not put into effect!! The Cadets themselves
have on a hundred occasions described this as "vermicelli" and a nuisance, and
But the Cadet tactics, extremely stupid from the standpoint of logic,
become comprehensible from the standpoint of class interests. Let us recall what
the Social-Democrats have been saying in the Third and Fourth Dumas ever since
1907. "There are two possible majorities in the Duma," they said, "a Right-wing
and Octobrist and an Octobrist-Cadet one. Both take a counter-revolutionary
stand" (cf. Prosveshcheniye, 1913, No. 1, p. 13).[*]
The Cadets' February 1913 meeting confirmed what we had been saying in
our official decisions since 1907.
"The tactic of united action by the entire opposition front . . . with
the aid of the Duma Centre" is indispensable to the Cadets precisely
because, like the Octobrists, they take a counter-revolutionary stand. In view
of the inner kinship of the Cadets and Octobrists, it is understandable that
they gravitate towards joint 'business', despite-its hopelessness today.
The Octobrists are always whimpering in their press, railing at the
revolution, railing at the government, the Rights and the Council of State, but
in the Duma they confine themselves to a desire for reforms and follow the
The Cadets whimper even more in their press, railing at the revolution,
railing at the government, the Rights, the
* See pp. 496-97 of this volume. --Ed.
[Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Results
of the Elections". -- DJR]
Council of State and the Octobrists, but in the Duma they confine themselves
to a desire for reforms and try to adapt their opposition to the Octobrists.
The second thesis of the Cadet meeting reads:
"The Duma can be substantially strengthened as a legislative and
political factor only by fulfilling three fundamental conditions:
democratisation of the electoral law (universal suffrage), a radical reform of
the Council of State, and a responsible Ministry."
The gist of the tactics set out here may be expressed by one word:
Historical science tells us that the distinction between a reformist and
a non-reformist change in a given political form is, generally speaking, that in
the former case the old ruling class retains power, while in the latter case
power is transferred from the old class to a new one. The Cadets do not
understand the class basis of historical changes. This is their basic error from
the point of view of theory.
From the point of view of practice, the above theoretical distinction
depends on whether the particular is changed while the general and basic is left
unchanged, or whether it is the latter that is changed.
In different countries and in different periods of history, the
bourgeoisie has been reformist or has gone further than that. On the other hand,
the working class, which has never considered reforms capable of bringing about
radical changes, under certain conditions by no means refrains from advancing
immediate demands in the shape of reforms.
The point is, consequently, that the Cadets regard the retention of power
by the present ruling class, i.e., the big feudal-type landowners, as
indisputable. The Cadets persist in their standpoint of an opposition in the
possessive case, continuing to hold the view that "there is a constitution in
Russia, thank God".
In other words, the Cadets' "three basic conditions" are those proposed
by the liberal bourgeoisie for an amicable division of economic and
political privileges between the feudal landowners and the capitalists.
The Octobrists have the same standpoint ("reconciliation of the
government and the country", as phrased by Maklakov, who is half Octobrist and
half Cadet), except that the Octobrists propose conditions for division that are
more "subservient " with regard to the landowners.
The big subservience of the Octobrists has proved a fiasco. What reasons
are there for expecting a different result from the little subservience of the
Cadets? From the point of view of reformism, the Octobrists are much more
consistent, for those who adopt this point of view must take into account the
acceptability of reforms, and the Octobrist "reforms" are much more
The only conclusion to be drawn is that the discrepancy between liberal
reformism and the requirements of the country is growing.
The third thesis of the Cadet meeting reads:
"Preparing these conditions should become the main tactical task of the
Constitutional-Democrats, and current legislative activity, jointly with the
other opposition groups and with the Centre, should be utilised as far as it
proves feasible but should not run counter to the realisation of these main
tasks" (Rech No. 34, February 4).
The previous "thesis" was a concession to the Left Cadets, or rather a
bait for the democrats, as if to say: support us Cadets, for we are "democrats"
and are for universal suffrage!
After the nod to the left comes a serious turn to the right; the third
thesis, translated from gibberish into plain Russian reads: we Cadets recognise
joint current legislative activity with the Progressists and
But does not this "current" legislation produce unrealisable
Bills, as the first thesis admits? The Cadets make a little reservation: "as far
as feasible". Speaking more plainly, this is equivalent to saying: we shall busy
ourselves with vermicelli, but the responsibility for it falls on the Octobrists!
Really, they are good jokers, are our Cadets.
To proceed. Neither the Progressists, nor the Octobrists, who are more
consistent than the Cadets in their
adherence to the reformist point of view, agree to such "excessively"
liberal demands as universal suffrage, radical reform of the Council of State,
etc. That being so, how can the Cadets, who continue to pose as democrats,
proclaim joint current legislative activity with these admitted
opponents of democracy?
Here, too, the Cadets have a little reservation -- to the effect that
they, the Cadets, are busy preparing for universal suffrage, preparing,
jointly with the Octobrists, for activity that "should not run counter to
the realisation" of universal suffrage.
It is a simple loophole -- they declare Rodzyanko's speech to be
"constitutional", and they vote (not by mistake, as do the Social-Democrats, but
by conviction) for the Octobrist formula of procedure with regard to the
declaration of the Minister, for all this does not run counter to
"preparing" for universal suffrage!!
Here we cannot say that the Cadets are good jokers. In this case we
should have to use a different word.
In all European countries, the counter-revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie,
which has turned its back on the democratic movement, continues to assert that
it is busy preparing (jointly with the national-liberals in Prussia and
with all the Progressists in France) for "basic" democratic reforms.
The bourgeoisie which has definitely taken the reformist path is a rotten
bourgeoisie, impotent in its liberalism, hopeless in the matter of democratic
changes, and hostile to the workers, a bourgeoisie which has deserted to
the Rights from the people.
The fourth, and last, thesis of the Cadet meeting reads:
"This meeting considers it opportune, along with advancing the three
slogans mentioned above, to raise the question of adopting more active tactical
measures of parliamentary struggle."
Only parliamentary? And only "to raise the question"?
Just what is meant by "more active tactical measures of parliamentary
struggle", Allah alone knows. One might
think the Cadet meeting had deliberately formulated its theses in the most
In speaking of more active measures, the Cadets clearly want to show that
they are moving to the left. But it is nothing more than a show, for nothing
definite can be read into it.
What are the kind of "measures" of parliamentary struggle that can,
generally speaking, be called more active?
Refusal to vote for the Octobrist and Progressist formulas of procedure.
Refusal to make speeches about "reconciliation of the government and the
Refusal to be silent whenever a Right-wing and Octobrist majority puts
through anti-democratic measures.
Refusal to agree to the closure or curtailment of general debates on
matters of principle.
We advise anyone who comes into contact with the Cadets to make a point
of asking them whether they have "raised" the question of more active measures,
how they have decided this question since they are going to raise it, and how
they actually adopt "more active measures".
The country is moving to the left. The new democratic movement is
awakening to life. The Cadets' show of a slight swing to the left has a very
definite political meaning, namely, to deceive this new democratic movement, to
impose its leadership upon it, to make themselves out to be its spokesmen.
The urgent task of the democrats is to prevent this deceit. Anyone who
has not drawn from the hard lessons of the past the conclusion that even partial
leadership of the democratic elements by the Cadets inevitably results in
vacillation, betrayals, and inglorious defeats without struggle, has learned
nothing. He should be regarded as an enemy of democracy.
Taken as a whole, the Cadet meeting was an interesting document of the
political activity of our "Centre". Normally the press in our country pays
little attention to such documents, to the precise and formal decisions of
parties. It has a distaste for "resolutions". It prefers interviews and
But those who take a serious view of politics must carefully analyse
party decisions, and Marxists will do all in their power to make such an
We have described the Cadets as the "Centre". It is customary,
however, to apply this term to the Octobrists, who stand midway between the
Rights and the opposition.
However, both from the point of view of the class basis of the political
parties and from that of the nature of contemporary politics in general,
we must not limit ourselves to the Duma in analysing the parties, must not
consider the Octobrists alone to be the "Centre".
Look at the class basis of our parties -- the Rights and nationalists, in
general, are semi-feudal landlords. They stand for the preservation and
"aggravation" of the present regime.
Among the Octobrists, Progressists and Cadets, we see landlords of an
undoubtedly more bourgeois type, and then the bulk of the big bourgeoisie. All
these parties want reforms. They all form a real centre between
the semi-feudal landlords and the democrats (peasants and workers).
The bourgeoisie is more afraid of democracy than of reaction; this
applies both to the Progressists and to the Cadets. The oppositional nature of
these two parties has, of course, to be taken into account in the practical
tasks of everyday politics, but this oppositional nature should not make us
close our eyes to the class kinship of these parties and the Octobrists.
The semi-feudal landlords rule both by themselves and in a bloc with the
upper ranks of the bourgeoisie.The feudal landlords are against reforms. The
bourgeoisie in general is in favour of reforms, and it confines itself to a
reformist stand, which is more than we can say of the peasant, let alone of the
The Cadet meeting clearly showed us the Cadets' reformism as their
exclusive tactics. The most important thing is to see the connection
between these tactics and the class interests of the bourgeoisie, and the
inadequacy of these tactics, the "increasing discrepancy" between them and
the requirements of the country. The most important thing is
to see the fundamental kinship of the Cadets and the Octobrists, and the
absolute impossibility of any democratic successes whatever under Cadet
This article was finished when I received Golos Moskvy No. 30,
with an editorial under the heading "What Next?", devoted to the Cadet meeting.
Taken in conjunction with the Duma votings on February 6 (adoption of the
formula of procedure with regard to Kasso's explanation),
that editorial is so important and sheds so vivid a light on the Cadets'
attitude to the Octobrists that it is absolutely necessary to comment on those
The official Octobrist organ, Golos Moskvy, represents the Cadet
meeting (for some reason the paper calls it a "conference") as a victory of the
Left Cadets, headed by Milyukov, over the Right Cadets.
"Legislative activity," said Golos Moskvy, expounding the Cadet
resolution, "can be utilised only insofar as it does not run counter to these
main tasks [i.e., universal suffrage, a reform of the Council of State, and a
"To put it more simply, the adoption of this formula is tantamount to
renouncing all legislative work within the bounds of what can actually be
accomplished, and the Cadet opposition is henceforward assuming a frankly
Golos Moskvy infers that there is nothing for it but to dissolve
the Duma, for the Octobrists will never adopt the Cadets' attitude, which is so
"uncompromising" (don't laugh!), there is no majority in the Duma, things are
"utterly hopeless ". . . .
See how history is written!
That brings out remarkably well the profound kinship of the Cadets and
the Octobrists, and the true nature of their "quarrel": a lovers' quarrel.
On February 6, in Moscow, the official Octobrist organ announced, as we
have seen, the complete break-up of the Octobrist-Cadet bloc following the Cadet
meeting, which took place before February 4 (when Rech reported
On the very same day, February 6, the Octobrists and Cadets in the
Fourth Duma, in St. Petersburg, together
adopted by 173 votes to 153 the Octobrist-Cadet formula of procedure
with regard to Kasso's explanation, a formula subsequently rejected by chance
when a confirmatory vote was taken!!
That's good, isn't it?
We have here a classical example of how the Octobrists and the Cadets
fix their political "affairs". They have nothing to do with any "bloc", God
forbid! But they distribute the roles among themselves -- to fool the public --
so "skilfully" that no formal bloc could provide them with anything so
"convenient". The Cadets see that the country is moving to the left, that a new
democratic movement is arising, and so they play at leftism by putting in
circulation, through their meeting, several phrases which say absolutely nothing
and are completely meaningless, but which sound like Left phrases. The
Octobrists support this feeling or impression among the public that the
Cadets have gone left; they bolster it up by officially declaring, in the
Golos Moskvy editorial, that the Cadets' attitude is uncompromising and
that it is impossible to form a majority in the Duma by an alliance of the
Octobrists and Cadets; they fulminate against the Cadets for their leftism,
clamour for the dissolution of the Duma, and so on and so forth.
But in reality under cover of this clamour they haggled with the Cadets,
and at the very time when they were making their sharpest attack on the Cadets'
leftism they struck a bargain with them on a common formula!!
"The wolves had their fill and the sheep kept their skins." The democrats
were hoodwinked, they were deceived and decoyed into the Cadet fold (the Cadets
are so Left-wing -- see how the Octobrists rail at them for their leftism!), and
the Octobrist-Cadet bloc in the Black-Hundred Duma was preserved, strengthened
One feels very much like exclaiming: O God, when will the Russian
democrats see through this simple stratagem of liberal Cadet bamboozling! For
liberal bourgeois politicians in all European countries use, in one form or
another, the very same trick: when facing the people, they shout and swear in
their official election speeches that they are democrats and radicals (the
German "freethinkers", Lloyd George and Co. in Britain), and even socialists
Socialists in France). But in reality, in their actual policy,
they make common cause with unquestionably anti-democratic governments
and parties, with the Octobrists of various shades and various nationalities.
How old this story is and how infinitely often the Cadets repeat it !
Golos Moskvy asserts that prior to the elections the Cadets
"carried on bitter polemics against the Lefts, trying to prove the need
for legislative work within the bounds of the actual conditions. It was this
that warranted the hope that agreement could be reached between the Duma Centre
and the opposition. But after the elections the views of the leaders of the
Cadet Party underwent an important change. The resolution on Duma tactics
proposed by Milyukov and adopted by the conference is entirely at variance with
all that was said during the elections -- evidently to win the votes of the big
urban bourgeoisie. The latter would scarcely have agreed to back the Cadets on
the platform which the conference has now put forward."
In this specimen of reasoning, you wonder which is the more astounding --
its naïve cunning or naïve ignorance.
The views of the Cadets have not changed in the least. The Cadets
have always been, and remain, a liberal party leading the democratic movement by
fraud. At the 1912 elections, too, they showed the big bourgeoisie their "true"
face, their "solidarity" of smart dealers, their "sobriety" as servants of the
capitalist class. But at the same time, in front of the democratic voters, they
took great pains to suggest that they were democrats and that their Duma tactics
did not differ in any essential from Social-Democratic tactics.
These two aspects of the Cadet policy are an indispensable "adjunct of
the attire" of every liberal party in any civilised country. To be sure,
individual party members often specialise, some in playing at democracy, others
in sobering up the "over-zealous" and pursuing a "respectable" bourgeois policy.
But then this is true of all countries. For example, Britain's well-known
liberal charlatan, Lloyd George, poses in his speeches to the people as a
regular revolutionary and all but a socialist, but in reality this Minister
follows the policy of his leader, Asquith, who is no different from a
The fact that the article in Golos Moskvy describes Mr. Milyukov
as a representative of the Left Cadets can only call forth a smile. Mr. Milyukov
in fact represents official Cadet diplomacy, which is trying to reconcile the
undemocratic nature of the party with democratic phrase-mongering.
Golos Moskvy said:
"This new 'post-election' attitude of Mr. Milyukov's was approved by the
conference anything but unanimously. A considerable number of participants
insisted on the tactic of agreement with the Duma Centre for the purpose of
securing the adoption of various Bills and cultural reforms. The advocates of
this point of view argued that in discussing various Bills the group should
compromise, trying to have them adopted in a liberal spirit, and by no means
making them unacceptable." There followed a sally against "the famous Cadet
discipline" and "unquestioning submission" of the Cadets to Mr. Milyukov's
The game is obvious. It is transparent. The Octobrists "tease" the Right
Cadets, whom they are trying to represent as defeated and provoke to a more
determined struggle against the Left Cadets. But this Octobrist game (which
would have been impossible had the Cadets and Octobrists not been members of one
and the same little family) does not eliminate the indisputable fact that there
are differences of shade between the Left and the Right Cadets, between the
Lloyd Georges and the Asquiths of our liberalism.
Look at Russkaya Molva. This Progressist organ, which advocates a
compromise between the Octobrists and the Cadets, is attracting an increasing
number of official members of the Cadet Party. Mansyrev and Maklakov and
Obolensky and Gredeskul and Alexandrov proved to be contributors -- not all at
once, but gradually, following the Vekhi leader, Struve. It is beyond
doubt that these people urged closer links with the Octobrists. Nor could it
have been otherwise. But it is just as doubtless that Milyukov is trying to
reconcile them with the "Left Cadets" on a platform with a democratic facade and
an Octobrist essence.
The various parties' Duma formulas of procedure with regard to Kasso's
explanation are very interesting. They supply us with accurate material for
political analysis, mate-
rial officially confirmed by the deputies of the various parties. It is
analysis that this material usually lacks most of all. It gets lost amid the
comments of the daily press or in the pile of the Duma's verbatim reports. Yet
it is well worth dwelling on if we want to understand the true nature of the
A leading article in Rech declared on the day following the
adoption of the formula of no-confidence: "Thus Russian society has obtained
from the Duma what it was entitled to expect" (No. 37, February 7). This sounds
as though all that "society" had to know was whether the Duma trusts Mr. Kasso!
That is not true. The people and the democrats have to know the
motives of no-confidence so as to understand the causes of a
development considered abnormal in politics, and be able to find a way out
to the normal. Unity of the Cadets, Octobrists and Social-Democrats on just the
phrase "we have no confidence" is too little as far as these very serious issues
Here is the Octobrists' formula of procedure:
"The Duma . . . considers: (1) all involvement of secondary school pupils
in political struggles is ruinous to the spiritual development of Russia's young
forces and harmful to the normal course of the life of society; (2) it is
necessary, whenever the authorities are informed in good time of undesirable
developments in secondary schools, to take preventive measures and not to wait
until developments assume an abnormal character*; (3) emphatically declares
against the application to pupils of police measures, such as were adopted on
December 10, 1912, without the knowledge of the school authorities, instead of
natural educational influence; (4) considers anti-educational the slowness with
which the fate of pupils removed from schools is decided on, and expecting this
incident to be dealt with immediately in a sense benevolent to the pupils,
proceeds to the next business."
What are the political ideas of this vote?
* This text was introduced at the January 25
sitting. At the sitting of February 1, Clause 2 was edited as follows: "It is
noted with reference to this particular case that a formal and indifferent
attitude to pupils prevails in secondary schools, that teaching staffs are
estranged from the families, and that it is necessary to establish a general
benevolent view on the rising generation."
Politics are harmful at school. The pupils are to blame. But it is their
teachers who should punish them and not the police. We are dissatisfied with the
government for its lack of "benevolence" and its slowness.
These are anti-democratic ideas. This is liberal opposition, for it
implies: let the old system of authority remain, but it should be applied more
mildly. You may flog, but within reason, and without publicity.
Look at the Progressist formula of procedure:
"The Duma finds that (1) the Ministry of Education, being informed of
what had lately taken place in the secondary schools of St. Petersburg, adopted
an impassive attitude to its duties and failed to protect the secondary schools
against incursion by the police; (2) the methods used by police officers,
methods which were resorted to without protest on the part of the Ministry of
Education and consisted in searching the schools, seizing children and holding
them under arrest at police-stations, and in applying impermissible methods of
investigation, were utterly unjustifiable, all the more since in this case it
was a matter not of safeguarding state security, but of restoring order in the
secondary schools; (3) the whole set of measures adopted by the Ministry of
Education, measures directed towards estranging the school from the family,
creates, through its callous formalism which hampers the moral and intellectual
growth of the young generation, conditions favourable to developments that are
abnormal in school life. The Duma considers the explanation offered by the
Minister of Education to be unsatisfactory and proceeds to the next business."
This formula was introduced on January 30, and the Progressists declared
there and then that they would vote for the Octobrists provided the latter added
no-confidence. We have seen above the results of this haggling.
On what basis could that haggling take place? On the basis of
agreement in the main.
The Progressists, too, consider politics in the schools abnormal and
they, too, call for "restoring order" (feudal order). They, too, are in
opposition in the possessive case -- opposition not to the old system of
authority but to its application -- "impassive, callous", and so on. In the
1860s Pirogov agreed that there must be flogging, but he insisted on the
flogging not being done impassively or callously. The Progressists have
no objection to the present social elements "restoring order", but they advise
the latter to do
it more "sympathetically". What progress has been made in our country in five
The Cadets' formula of procedure:
"Having heard the explanation offered by the Minister of Education and
considering: (1) that it shows a complete confusion of the educational point of
view with that of the police; (2) that this explanation is a complete denial of
the normal foundations on which relations of friendly co-operation can be
established between school and family; (3) that the policy of the Ministry, by
giving rise to deep resentment among the pupils and to legitimate annoyance in
society, itself promotes the creation of an atmosphere making for the early
involvement of school youth in Political pursuits and hence itself creates
conditions which it should prevent from arising; (4) that treating pupils as
being guilty of crimes against the state cripples the lives of the most gifted
among the rising generation, snatches numerous victims from its ranks and
constitutes a threat to the future of Russia, the Duma considers the explanation
offered by the Minister to be unsatisfactory and proceeds to the next business."
Here, too, "early" involvement in politics is condemned but in
much milder terms and in a form veiled by phrases. This is an anti-democratic
point of view. Octobrists and Cadets alike condemn police measures only because
they want prevention instead. The system should prevent meetings, not
disperse them. Obviously, such a reform would only embellish the system but not
change it. "We are dissatisfied with the policy of the Ministry," say the
Cadets, and from what they say it follows, exactly as with the Octobrists, that
it is possible to wish for a change in this policy without something much
The Cadets pronounce themselves against the government much more sharply
than the Octobrists, and because of the sharp language politically immature
elements overlook the complete identity of the liberal, anti-democratic,
presentation of the issue by the Cadets and the Octobrists.
The Duma should earnestly teach the people politics. Those who learn
their politics from the Cadets are corrupting and not developing their political
It is not an accident that the Octobrists, Progressists and Cadets
haggled and struck a bargain on a common formula; it is a result of their
ideological and political solidarity in the main. Nothing could be more paltry
than the policy of the Cadets, who agree to a direct condemnation of
politics in the schools for the sake of finding the explanation offered
unsatisfactory. But the Cadets agreed to this because they themselves condemn
"early" involvement. The formula of the Trudovik group:
"Whereas: (1) the brute force used on December 9, 1912, against secondary
school pupils, which shocked society by the disgraceful participation of the
secret police in educational supervision over pupils of secondary schools, was
fully approved in the explanation offered by Mr. Kasso, the Minister of
Education, who sneered maliciously at public opinion; (2) the system of secret
police and spying, which is a result of the entire policy of the combined
Ministry, and in particular of Kasso, the Minister of Education, leads to
complete havoc, and threatens in the future to cause a severe shock to the
rising generation, the Duma insists that all those discharged on December 9
should be immediately reinstated and, considering the explanation offered by
Kasso, the Minister of Education, to be unsatisfactory, demands his immediate
resignation, and proceeds to the next business."
This formula is, strictly speaking, a markedly liberal one; but it does
not contain what a democrat, as distinct from a liberal, should have
said. A liberal, too, may find it disgraceful to enlist the assistance of the
secret police in educational supervision, but a democrat should say (and teach
the people) that no "supervisors" have a right to encroach on the free
organisation of political circles and talks. A liberal, too, may condemn "the
entire policy of the combined Ministry", but a democrat in Russia should make
clear that there are certain general conditions by virtue of which any other
Ministry would have had to pursue practically the same policy.
The democracy of the Trudovik formula shows only in its tenor, in
the sentiment of its authors. There is no denying that sentiment is a political
symptom. But it would not be amiss to insist that the formula of procedure
should contain a well-thought-out idea and not merely "heart-warming" sentiment.
The Social-Democrats' formula of procedure:
"Having heard the explanation offered by the Minister of Education and
considering that it indicates: (1) a determination to combat the natural and
encouraging desire of school youth to extend their mental horizons through
self-education and to hold comradely intercourse; 2) a justification of the
system of official formalism, spying and police investigation that is being
implanted in the higher,
secondary and elementary schools, a system which cripples youth mentally and
morally, ruthlessly stamps out all signs of independence of thought and
character, and results in an epidemic of suicides among pupils, the Duma
considers the explanation unsatisfactory. Considering, at the same time, that
(1) there is an inseparable connection between the domination of the police
standpoint in the matter of public education and the domination of the secret
police over the whole of Russian life, the suppression of all forms of organised
and independent activity by the citizens, and the latter's lack of rights, and
that (2) only a radical change in the political organisation and the system of
state administration can free the citizens from police fetters and also free the
school from them, the Duma proceeds to the next business."
This formula, too, can hardly be considered impeccable. One cannot help
wishing it had presented the matter in more popular language and in greater
detail, and regretting that it does not stress the legitimacy of engaging in
politics, and so on and so forth.
However, our criticism of all the formulas is by no means aimed at
details of formulation, but exclusively at the fundamental political ideas
of their authors. A democrat should have said the important thing, namely, that
political circles and talks are natural and to be welcomed. That is the
point. All condemnation of involvement in politics, even if only of "early"
involvement, is hypocrisy and obscurantism. A democrat should have raised the
level of the question from the "combined Ministry" to the
political system. He should have pointed out the "inseparable connection",
firstly, with the "domination of the secret police" and, secondly, with the
domination of the class of big landlords of the feudal type in the economic
explanation offered by Kasso, the Minister of Education, in the Duma was
prompted by a question of forty-four members of the Duma tabled on December 14
(27), 1912, regarding the arrest of thirty-four secondary-school pupils in St.
Petersburg during a meeting at Witmer's private gymnasium. The pupils were
suspected by the secret police of being members of an illegal political group.
The question was discussed at five sittings of the Duma. On February 6 (19),
1913, the majority voted for a formula of procedure to the next business that
considered the tsarist Minister's explanation unsatisfactory. [p.