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V. I. Lenin
DEPUTY T. O. BELOUSOV'S WITHDRAWAL
FROM THE SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC GROUP
IN THE DUMA
Zvezda, No. 17 (53),
March 13, 1912
to the Zvezda text
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1968
Vol. 17, pp. 521-26.
Translated from the Russian by Dora Cox
Edited by George Hanna
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,firstname.lastname@example.org (April 2002)
DEPUTY T. O. BELOUSOV'S WITHDRAWAL<"p521">
FROM THE SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC GROUP
IN THE DUMA
We were greatly surprised to find in No. 7 of Zhivoye Dyelo a reprint from Rech of Mr. Belousov's acrimonious statement. There is nothing surprising in the fact that Rech opened its columns to this statement of the latest turn coat. It is natural for Rech to print the outcries of a former Social-Democrat who alleges that the appraisal of his defection given by the Social-Democratic group in the Duma was prompted by "feelings of revenge". But why does Zhivoye Dyelo reprint this? And is it not strange that the same Zhivoye Dyelo carries an article, "The Withdrawal of Deputy Belousov", with bitter-sweet statements to the effect that "we must not be upset by the cases of desertion which have occurred."
Zhivoye Dyelo does "not deem it proper to go into an appraisal of Belousov's step so long as the motives by which he was guided have not been made public". Nevertheless, it does attempt it . . . but stops half-way and merely pulls faces at "this kind of desertion"!
Why this game? Surely it is time for the press to do its duty by openly discussing facts of political importance.
The Social-Democratic group in the Duma gave as its unanimous opinion that the proper procedure for Mr. Belousov would be immediately to resign his office as deputy, since he was elected by the votes of Social-Democrats and had been a member of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma for four and a half years.
Mr. Belousov's answer, printed in Rech, entirely evades this issue. But the voice of class-conscious workers must not permit this question to be passed over in silence. Mr. Belousov may prefer to keep silent, but we have no right to. What would be the use of the working-class press if it refrained from discussing facts which are of importance to working-class representation in the Duma?
Is it permissible, from the standpoint of the obligations of any democrat, for a deputy who was elected as a Social-Democrat and for four and a half years had belonged to the Social-Democratic group in the Duma to withdraw from the group a few months before the elections, without at the same time resigning from the Duma ? This is a question of general interest. No democrat who is aware of his obligations to his constituents -- not in the sense of being a "solicitor" on behalf of local interests, but of the obligations of a politician who in the elections paraded before all the people under a definite banner -- not a single democrat will deny that this is an extremely important question of principle.
Let all workers who read the working-class press and who are interested in the question of workers' representation in the State Duma pay the closest attention to Mr. Belousov's withdrawal, let them ponder over and discuss this question. They must not keep silent. It would be unworthy of a class-conscious worker to keep silent on an occasion like this. The workers must learn to stand by their rights, by the right of all voters to insist that deputies elected by them remain true to their banner, their right to show these deputies that they dare not desert, that they cannot do so with impunity.
Is the Social-Democratic group in the Duma right in insisting that a deputy who has belonged to it for four and a half years, and who was elected to the State Duma by Social-Democratic votes, is in duty bound, now that he has withdrawn from the group, to resign from the Duma as well? Yes, it is absolutely right! If we are for unity, solidarity, integrity and loyalty to principles on the part of working-class representatives, not only in words, but in fact, then we must voice our opinion, we must, each and every one of us, individually and collectively, write to
Zvezda and to the Duma group (also sending copies of the letters to the local press) stating that we emphatically and irrevocably condemn Mr. Belousov's conduct, that not only every supporter of the working class, but every democrat as well, must condemn conduct of this kind. What, indeed, will our "popular representation" be like, if deputies who were elected under a definite banner and who during nine-tenths of the Duma sessions professed allegiance to that banner, declare on the eve of new elections : "I withdraw from the group, but I retain my mandate, I desire to remain a representative of the 'people'"!
Not so fast, Mr. Turncoat! What people do you now represent? Surely not the people that elected you as a Social-Democrat! Not the people who, for nine-tenths of the Duma sessions, saw you in the ranks of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma! You are not a representative of the people but a deceiver of the people; for during the time left to the elections it is impossible, physically impossible, for the people (even if they enjoyed complete political liberty) to study from the facts, on the basis of your conduct, who you are, what you have become, where you have landed, who or what is attracting you. You are in duty bound to quit the Duma, otherwise everyone will have a right to treat you as a political adventurer and a fraud!
There may be many reasons for a withdrawal. There may be a change of views so obvious, definite, open, and motivated by universally known facts, as to prompt a withdrawal which raises no doubts, in which there is nothing reprehensible or dishonourable. But, surely, it is not an accident that at present, and only at present, only in this case, has the Duma group published a protest in the press! The Social-Democratic group states openly that Mr. Belousov "expressed the desire that the fact of his withdrawal from the group should not be made public". In his answer, reprinted by Zhivoye Dyelo, Mr. Belousov is abusive, but he does not deny the fact. We ask: what must every worker think of a man who, while leaving the group, expresses the desire to conceal his withdrawal? If this is not deception, what is?
The Social-Democratic group states in plain words that it "is quite unable to gauge the limits of the further evolu- tion of its former member". Let the reader give some thought to these highly significant words! The Social-Democratic group in the Duma made no such grave statements in the case of others who have left it. In the present case it is, therefore, a vote of complete non-confidence. More than that, it is a warning to all the voters, to the whole people that no confidence whatsoever may be placed in this deputy. The Social-Democratic group has issued this unanimous warning to all. It is now up to every class-conscious worker to reply that he has heard the warning, has understood it and agrees with it, that he will not tolerate in silence the creation in Russia, among people professing to be democrats, of such parliamentary morals (or, rather, parliamentary immorality) which allow deputies to grab mandates for personal gain, for the purpose of "freely" manipulating these spoils. This has been the case in all bourgeois parliaments, and everywhere the workers who are aware of their historic role are fighting these practices and, in the process of the struggle, are training their own working-class members of parliament, men who are not out for mandates, not out to profit by parliamentary manipulations, but are the trusted envoys of the working class.
The workers should not allow themselves to be hoodwinked by sophistry. One such piece of sophistry is the statement of Zhivoye Dyelo : "we do not deem it proper to go into an appraisal of T. O. Belousov's step so long as the motives by which he was guided have not been made public".
To begin with, we read in the statement of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma: "In justifying his withdrawal, Mr. Belousov explained that, as much as two years ago the group had become utterly alien to him." Is not this making a motive public? Is this not plain language? If Zhivoye Dyelo does not believe the statement of the group, let it say so outright -- let it not twist, and squirm, let it not tell us that it does "not deem it proper to go into", when, as a matter of fact, the group has already gone into and made public the motives, or the motive, which it considers to be the most important.
Secondly, we read in Mr. Belousov's reply printed in the Cadet Rech and the liquidationist Zhivoye Dyelo : "I declare that in its statement the group said absolutely nothing [?!] about the real motives of my rupture with it. I know that circumstances beyond its control do not permit the group to make public my differences with it, which I have set forth both in my oral and written statements". Now, see how it all works out. The group officially makes public what Mr. Belousov represented as his motive. Mr. Belousov fulminates ("insinuations, innuendoes", etc.), but does not deny that this was what he said; he declares that circumstances beyond the control of the group do not permit the latter to "make public" something else. (If it is true that circumstances do not permit it to be made public, why do you, sir, make a public hint at what cannot be made public? Does not your method smack of insinuation?) Yet Zhivoye Dyelo reprints Mr. Belousov's flagrant and crying untruth and adds, on its own behalf: "We do not deem it proper to go into . . . so long as the motives . . . have not been made public" -- the very motives which cannot be made public because circumstances beyond control "do not permit" it! In other words, Zhivoye Dyelo will withhold its opinion of Mr. Belousov's withdrawal until the publication of things which (according to the statement of Mr. Belousov himself) cannot be made public.
Is it not obvious that, instead of exposing the falsehood of Mr. Belousov's statement reprinted in its pages, Zhivoye Dyelo covers up the falsehood?
There is little more that we can add. One who pleads the non-publication of things which cannot be made public, thereby gives his own game away. But it is indispensable and obligatory for everybody who holds dear working-class representation in the Duma to appraise those things which have already been made public and are already known. Mr. Belousov asserts: "My withdrawal from the group has not altered the tendency of my political and public activity one iota". These are hollow words. This is what all renegades say. These words contradict the statement made by the group. We believe the Social-Democratic group, and not the turncoat. As regards Mr. Belousov's "tendency", we, as well as most other Marxists, know one thing -- that it has been a sharply liquidationist tendency. Mr. Belousov has gone to such lengths of liquidationism that the group
has finally "liquidated" his connections with the Social-Democratic movement. All the better for the movement, for the workers, for the cause of the workers.
And not only the workers but all democrats must demand Mr. Belousov's resignation from the Duma.
<"en197"> In February 1912, the Menshevik-liquidator T. O. Belousov, deputy to the Third Duma from Irkutsk Gubernia, notified the Social-Democratic group of his withdrawal from the group. The group unanimously demanded that Belousov immediately resign his seat, and published this demand in Zvezda, No. 12, February 23, 1912. Two days later, Belousov published a letter in Rech, which also appeared in Zhivoye Dyelo, in which he criticised the statement of the group and tried to justify his withdrawal from it. The Irkutsk Stock-Exchange Committee at its meeting of February 29 (March 13) discussed the question of Belousov's resignation from the Duma, and these representatives of commerce and industry asked him to continue as a member of the Duma. Belousov expressed his thanks to the Committee "for their support and faith in him". When he wrote his article Lenin was unaware of Belousov's correspondence with the Irkutsk Stock-Exchange Committee, but on its publication Zvezda informed its readers of the contents of this correspondence.
Following the appearance of Lenin's article in Zvezda Belousov sent a new statement to the group full of abuse of the revolutionary Social-Democrats. [p. 521]