liberalism; they are shrewd enough to perceive under this veneer of liberalism the profoundly conservative social nature of "The Wild Gentleman".
It would be serving a very useful purpose to make Bulygin's constitution widely known among the workers and the peasants. One could hardly show up more plainly the real aspirations and the class basis of the tsarist power which
is supposed to stand above the classes. One could hardly conceive of better material for object lessons in universal, direct, and equal suffrage by secret ballot.
It is interesting also to view this skimpy "constitution" of landlords and bureaucrats in the light of the latest reports on the Russian political parties. Except for the extreme parties, the terrorists and the reactionaries, a certain English correspondent (who evidently mixes in "society" and therefore does not see common people such as the workers) counts three parties: (1) the conservative, or pan-Slavic, party (the "Slavophil" system: to the tsar, the power of authority; to his subjects, the power of opinion, viz., a representative assembly with consultative powers only); (2) the liberal, or "opportunist", party (its leader, Shipov, its programme -- like that of all opportunists -- "between two stools"); and (3) the radical, or (a very characteristic "or"!) constitutional party, which includes most of the Zemstvo people, professors "and students" (?). Its programme: universal suffrage by secret ballot.
The conservatives are said to be meeting now in St. Petersburg, the liberals will meet at the beginning of May in Moscow, and the radicals at the same time in St. Petersburg. Government circles are said to regard universal suffrage by secret ballot as equivalent to "the proclamation of the republic ". The "radicals" are the most numerous of all the parties.
Bulygin's project is, to all appearances, the project of the conservative party. The project of the Osvobozhdeniye camp is very similar to the programme of the "radical or constitutional" party (in reality, not at all radical and but poorly constitutional). Finally, the "liberal", or Shipov, party probably wants a little more than is offered by Bulygin and a little less than is demanded by the constitutionalists.
The market-place is having a great day. The bargaining is brisk. The fine gentlemen of society are standing out for a high price and so are the cunning gentlemen of the Court. Everything points to the two of them knocking a bit off and then -- striking a bargain, before the workers and peasants step in.
The government is playing a deep game. It threatens the conservatives with the liberals; it threatens the liberals
with the Osvobozhdeniye "radicals"; it threatens the last named with the spectre of a republic. Translated into the language of class interests, particularly of the chief interest -- exploitation of the workers by the bourgeoisie -- this game means: Let us come to terms, my dear landlords and merchants; let us divide the power peaceably, in bonds of harmony, before it is too late, before the real popular revolution sets in, before we have the rising of the whole proletariat and the whole peasantry, who will not swallow skimpy constitutions, indirect elections, or any other bureaucratic rubbish.
The class-conscious proletariat must have no illusions. The only pledge of Russia's real emancipation from the entire serf-holding, absolutist system lies in it alone, in the proletariat supported by the peasantry, in the armed uprising of the two, in their desperate struggle under the slogan of "Death or freedom".