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V. I. Lenin
THE CONGRESS SUMMED UP
Written on May 6 (19), 1906Published in Volna, No. 11, May 7, 1906
Signed: N. L-n
to the newspaper text
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972
First printing 1962
Second printing 1965
Third printing 1972
Vol. 10, pp. 392-95.
Translated from the Russian
Edited by Andrew Rothstein
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, email@example.com (October 2001)
THE CONGRESS SUMMED UP
"There are signs," writes Rech today, "that the brilliant success of the opposition has revived old illusions that seemed to have been buried, and threatens to turn the revolutionary movement back to the path of Blanquism, from which the reasonable 'Minority' of the Russian Social-Democratic Party made such strenuous efforts to divert it after the unsuccessful 'armed uprising' last December."
This is a valuable admission which the Russian workers would do well to ponder over. Why does the bourgeoisie insult certain Social-Democrats by slapping them on the back and calling them reasonable? Because they have made strenuous efforts to divert the movement from the path of Blanquism, from the "December" path. Is it true that the December struggle was a manifestation of Blanquism? No, it is not. Blanquism is a theory which repudiates the class struggle. Blanquism expects that mankind will be emancipated from wage slavery, not by the proletarian class struggle, but through a conspiracy hatched by a small minority of intellectuals. Was there such a conspiracy, or anything like one, in December? No, there was not. It was the class movement of vast masses of the proletariat who resorted to the purely proletarian weapon of struggle, the strike, and won over to its side the masses of semi-proletarians (railwaymen, post-office employees, etc.), peasants (in the South, the Caucasus, the Baltic Provinces) and town petty bourgeoisie (Moscow), who had never before been seen on the Russian political scene. The bourgeoisie wants, by using the bogy of "Blanquism", to belittle, discredit and slander the people's struggle for power. The bourgeoisie stands to gain if the proletarians and peasants fight only for concessions from the old regime.
The Right Social-Democrats use the word "Blanquism" merely as a rhetorical device in their polemics. The bourgeoisie converts this word into a weapon against the proletariat: "Workers, be reasonable! Fight for the extension of the powers of the Cadet Duma! Pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the bourgeoisie, but don't dare to think of such madness, anarchism, Blanquism, as fighting for complete power for the people!"
Are the bourgeois liberals telling the truth when they say that the Right Social-Democrats have made strenuous efforts to divert the movement from the path and the methods of October and December? Unfortunately, they are. Not all the Right Social-Democrats realised that this is what their tactics meant, but actually this is what they did mean. Insisting on participation in the Duma elections virtually meant supporting the Cadets, who had been burying the revolution and had described the revolutionary struggle as an "old illusion". All of the Unity Congress's three resolutions of major importance in principle, adopted by the Right Social-Democrats against the bitter opposition of the Left Social-Democrats, i.e., the agrarian programme, the resolution on the State Duma and the resolution on armed uprising bear obvious marks of the efforts of the "reasonable section of the Social-Democratic Party" to divert the revolutionary movement from the path of October-December. Take the vaunted "municipalisation". True, as a result of our pressure, Maslov's original proposal for municipalisation was undoubtedly pushed leftward. "Confiscation" was substituted for "alienation"; his proposal now allows for the division of the land; a clause was inserted pledging support for the "revolutionary actions of the peasantry, including confiscation", etc. But for all that, municipalisation, even if a castrated municipalisation, is there. Municipalisation means transferring the landed estates to democratic Zemstvos. The revolutionary peasants will not agree to this. They quite rightly do not, and will not, trust the Zemstvos, even if they are democratic, so long as this local democracy exists side by side with an undemocratic central authority. They will quite rightly reject the proposal to transfer the land to the local and central authorities before the whole, absolutely the whole, administration is elected by, accountable to, and sub-
ject to recall by, the people. But this condition, in spite of the struggle of the Left Social-Democrats, was rejected by the Congress. Instead of voting for transferring the land to the people when all state authorities are elected by the people, the Congress voted in favour of transferring the land to elected local bodies. On what grounds? On the grounds that the idea of seizing power should not be in the programme: that it was necessary to have guarantees against restoration. But the fear lest the revolutionary peasants seize power is a purely Cadet fear of peasant revolution.
As for a guarantee against restoration in the real sense of the word, there can only be one: a socialist revolution in the West. Without this, nothing in the world can guarantee us against restoration of the undemocratic central authority, so long as capitalism, and the always unstable, always wavering, small commodity producer, exist. Consequently, instead of idly dreaming about relative guarantees against restoration, we should be thinking about carrying our revolution through to the end. At the Congress, however, the Right Social-Democrats thought that they had found a guarantee against restoration by adopting a programme that looks very much like a compromise with restoration: we shall guarantee ourselves against restoration of the undemocratic central authority if we say nothing in our agrarian programme about the necessity of completely democratising this authority.
Take the resolution on the Duma. The Congress adopted it when the Cadets had already achieved their election victories. And in spite of our protests, the Congress in its resolution speaks of a Duma of people's representatives in general and not of the present Cadet Duma. The Right Social-Democrats did not wish to indicate the two-faced nature of this Duma; it did not warn the workers about the counter-revolutionary role which the Cadet Duma is trying to play; it refused to say plainly and definitely that the socialist workers should march with the peasant and revolutionary democrats against the Cadets. It expressed the desire to have a Social-Democratic parliamentary group, without troubling to think whether we have a parliament, or whether we have any Social-Democratic members of parliament.
Take the third of the above-mentioned resolutions. It starts with an ultra-revolutionary phrase, but nevertheless
it is permeated with scepticism, if not hostility, towards the October-December struggle. It says nothing at all about the necessity of taking into account the historic experience that the Russian proletariat and the Russian people acquired at the end of 1905. Nor does it admit that very definite forms of struggle arose out of historical necessity in the past, and are arising again now. We have indicated, only in very brief and general outline, the main defects of the resolutions over which the struggle was waged at the Congress. We shall yet return to these subjects again more than once. The party of the proletariat must carefully discuss and review these resolutions in the light of the new facts that are provided by the Cadet Duma and the rapidly unfolding panorama of the new revolutionary upswing. The party of the proletariat must learn to examine very critically the resolutions of its representatives. And the unanimous chorus of praise coming from the bourgeois press for the reasonable, well-behaved Russian Social-Democrats clearly indicates to the proletariat that the Party must be suffering from some malady.
We must, and will, cure this malady.