From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1968
THE PEASANTRY AND THE ELECTIONS
TO THE FOURTH DUMA
The tsarist government has already begun to "prepare" for the elections to the Fourth Duma. The rural superintendents, prodded by the circulars of the governors and the minister, are trying to do their bit, the police and the Black Hundreds are showing their zeal, the "holy fathers", who have been ordered to do their level best for the "Right" parties, are not letting the grass grow under their feet. It is high time the peasants also began to think of the elections.
The elections are of particular importance for the peasants, but their position in the elections is a very difficult one. The peasants are the least politically organised -- both as compared with the workers and as compared with the liberal, Cadet Party. Without political organisation, the peasants, who, owing to the conditions under which they live, are the most disunited section of the population, will be absolutely unable to offer resistance to the landowners and officials who are now persecuting and ill-treating them worse than ever before. A group of peasant deputies to the Fourth Duma, really devoted to the cause of the peasantry, politically-conscious and capable of defending all its interests, politically organised and working steadily to extend and strengthen their ties with tbe peasants in the villages -- such a group could be of immense service in helping to unite the peasant masses in their struggle for freedom and for life.
Can such a group be formed in the Fourth Duma? In the Third Duma, there was a group of 14 Trudoviks, who championed the democratic interests of peasants; unfortunately, they all too often became dependent on the liberals, the Cadets, who are leading the peasants by the nose, deceiving them with the illusion of "peace" between peasants and
landowners, between the peasants and the landowning tsarist monarchy. Besides, it is a known fact that even the "Right " peasants in the Third Duma took a more democratic stand than the Cadets on the question of land. The agrarian bill introduced by forty-three peasant deputies in the Third Duma proves this incontrovertibly; and the recent "sally" of Purishkevich against the Right peasant deputies shows that the Black Hundreds have, in general, every reason to be dissatisfied with these "Right" peasant deputies.
Thus the mood of the peasantry, which during the period of the Third Duma has been taught the cruel lessons of the new agrarian policy, of the "land misregulation" and of that most terrible calamity -- the famine -- warrants the belief that it is fully capable of sending democratic representatives to the Fourth Duma. The main drawback is the electoral law! Framed by the landowners for their benefit, and endorsed by the landowners' tsar, it provides that the deputies who are to represent the peasants in the Duma shall be elected not by the peasant electors but by the landowners. The landowners can choose which peasant electors they like to represent the peasants in the Duma! It is obvious that the landowners will always choose peasants who follow the Black Hundreds.
Hence, if the peasants are to elect their own deputies to the Duma, if they are to elect truly reliable and staunch champions of their interests, they have only one means. That is to follow the example of the workers and choose as electors only Party members, class-conscious and reliable men thoroughly devoted to the peasantry, and no others.
The working-class Social-Democratic Party resolved at its conference that already at the meetings of the delegates (who elect the electors) the workers must decide who is to be elected to represent them in the Duma. All the other electors must stand down in their favour, on pain of being boycotted and branded as traitors.
Let the peasants do the same. Preparations for the elections must be started at once, and in this connection it is necessary to make their condition clear to the peasants and wherever possible form village groups, even if only small ones, of politically-conscious peasants, to conduct the election campaign. At the meetings of their delegates,
before electing the electors, the peasants must decide who is to be elected to the Duma from the peasants, and all the other peasant electors must be requested, on pain of being boycotted and branded as traitors, to turn down any offers made them by the landowners, and categorically to decline their nomination in favour of the candidate decided on by the peasants.
All class-conscious workers, all Social-Democrats, and all true democrats in general, must lend the peasantry a helping hand in the elections to the Fourth Duma. May the severe lessons of the famine and of the plunder of the peasants' land not have been in vain. May there be a stronger and more solid group of peasant deputies in the Fourth Duma, a group of real democrats loyal to the peasantry.