Results of the Elections

Marx-Engels |  Lenin  | Stalin |  Home Page

V. I. Lenin



Written in January 1913
Published in Prosveshcheniye No. 1
January 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. 493-518.

Translated from the Russian by Stepan Apresyan
Edited by Clemens Dutt

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,
 (June 2002)

RESULTS OF THE ELECTION .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .



Manipulating the Elections .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
The New Duma .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Changes within the June Third System .  .  .  .
What Was the Issue in the Elections?  .  .  .  .
The Election Slogans Tested by Experience .  .
"End" of the Illusions about the Cadet Party .  .
Concerning an "Enormous Danger to the Land-
ownership of the Nobility" .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Covering Up the Defeat  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .



page 493



    The Fourth Duma election campaign has confirmed the appraisal of the historical situation that Marxists have been giving since 1911. The gist of that appraisal is that the first period of the history of Russian counter-revolution is over. The second period has begun, a period characterised by the awakening of "light contingents" of bourgeois democrats (the student movement), by the aggressive economic, and still more non-economic, movement of the working class, and so on.

    Economic depression, the vigorous offensive of the counter-revolution, the retreat and disintegration of the democratic forces, and the spate of renegade, Vekhi, liquidationist ideas in the "progressive camp" -- these are the distinguishing features of the first period (1907-11). As for the second period (1911-12), it is distinguished -- economically, politically and ideologically -- by the opposite features: an upswing in industry, the inability of the counter-revolution to press forward its offensive with the same force or vigour as before, etc., and the revival of the democratic movement, which forced Vekhi, renegade, liquidationist sentiments to conceal themselves.

    Such is the general background of the picture, which has to be borne in mind if the election campaign of 1912 is to be appraised accurately.



    The most striking characteristic of the elections to the Fourth Duma is their systematic rigging by the government. It is not our aim here to sum up the results of

page 494

"manipulating the elections". This has been commented on quite sufficiently by the entire liberal and democratic press, and the Cadets' detailed interpellation in the Fourth Duma speaks of the same thing. We shall probably be able to devote a special article to this question when the vast and increasing documentary evidence has been collated.

    For the time being we shall only note the principal results of manipulating the elections, and the chief political significance of this manipulation.

    The priesthood mobilised against the liberal and Octobrist landlords; repressive measures increased tenfold, and the law most unceremoniously violated to prejudice the rights of the bourgeois democracy in town and country; attempts made to wrest the worker curia from the Social-Democrats by the same means -- these are the principal methods used in manipulating the 1912 elections. The purpose of this policy, which is reminiscent of Bonapartist policy, was to form a Right-wing and nationalist majority in the Duma, and this aim, as we know, has not been achieved. But we shall see below that the government has succeeded in "upholding" the former, Third-Duma, situation in our parliament, if we may call it that: there remain two possible majorities in the Fourth Duma, a Right-wing and Octobrist and an Octobrist-Cadet one.

    The electoral law of June 3, 1907, "built" the state system of administration -- and, indeed, not only of administration -- on a bloc of the feudal landlords and the top strata of the bourgeoisie, with the first-named social element retaining a tremendous preponderance in this bloc, while above both elements stood a virtually uncurtailed old authority. There is no need now to say what the specific nature of that authority, brought into being by the age-long history of serfdom, etc., has been and still is. At all events, the shift in 1905, the collapse of the old state of affairs, and the open and powerful actions of the masses and classes, necessitated the search for an alliance with particular social forces.

    The hopes pinned on the "uneducated" muzhik in 1905-06 (the Bulygin and Witte electoral laws) were shattered. The July Third system "banked on the strong", on the landlords and the bourgeois big-wigs. But in the course of a mere five

page 495

years the experience of the Third Duma has begun to break this gamble as well! It would be hard to imagine greater servility than the Octobrists showed in 1907-12, and yet even they did not prove servile enough. The old authority (the "bureaucracy"), which is closely<"p495"> akin to them in character, was unable to get along even with them. The bourgeois policy in the countryside (the law of November 9[196]) and full assistance to capitalism were both directed by the very same Purishkeviches, and the results proved to be deplorable. Purishkevichism -- refurbished, repaired, and freshened up with a new agrarian policy and a new system of representative institutions -- continued to crush everything and hamper progress.

    The June Third system developed a crack. "Manipulation" of the elections became inevitable, just as Bonapartist methods are historically inevitable when there is no solid, durable and tested integral social basis, and when there is a need to manoeuvre among heterogeneous elements. If the democratic classes are powerless, or have been greatly weakened for temporary reasons, such methods may be attended by "success" over a number of years. But even the "classical" examples of Bismarck in the sixties of the last century,<"p495a"> or of Napoleon III, bear witness that things do not work out without the most drastic changes (in Prussia it was a "revolution from above"[197] and several exceptionally successful wars).



    To ascertain the results of the elections, let us take the official data on the party composition of the Fourth Duma and compare it with that of the Third Duma, not only at the end of its existence (1912), but also at the beginning (1908). We obtain the following instructive picture*:

    * The data are taken from the following Duma publications: Ukazatel (Directory ) for 1908, Spravochnik (Reference Book ) for 1912 and Spravochny Listok [IV ] Gosudarstvennoi Dumy (Reference Sheet of the Fourth State Duma ) No. 14, December 2, 1912 -- corrected data as of December 1, 1912. The three national groups are the Poles, Byelorussians and Moslems.

page 496

Third Duma




Rights.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Nationalists and moderate Rights .  .  .  .  .
Octobrists .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Progressists .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Cadets.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
The three national groups  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Trudoviks .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Social-Democrats .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Unaffiliated.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .




Total .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .




    The first conclusion to be drawn from these data is that in the Fourth Duma the former two possible majorities remain -- the Right-wing and Octobrist majority of 283 votes (65 + 120 + 98) and the Octobrist-Cadet majority of 226 votes (98 + 48 + 59 + 21).

    As far as the autocratic government is concerned, the most important thing for practical purposes is to have "its own" majority in the Duma. The distinction between the Third and Fourth Dumas is negligible in this respect. In the Third Duma, the Right-wing and Octobrist majority was 292 votes at the beginning and 268 at the end. What we have, now is 283, a figure midway between those two.

    But the drop in the Right-wing majority between the beginning and the end of the Third Duma was so considerable that the government, being an autocratic one, could not but resort to extraordinary measures of manipulating the elections. That manipulation is neither an accident nor a departure from the system, as the Meyendorfs, Maklakovs and Co. like to make out, but a measure indispensable for maintaining the "system".

    You, liberal gentlemen headed by Maklakov, talk of "reconciling the government and the country" (i.e., the bourgeoisie). But if that is true, there are two alternatives. Either your talk about reconciliation is not meaningless words, and then you must also accept "manipulating the elections", for such is the real condition for reconciliation with the real

page 497

government. After all, you are so fond of "realistic policy"! Or your protests against "manipulating the elections" are not meaningless words, and then you should speak not of reconciliation, but of something entirely unlike reconciliation.

    The second majority of the June Third system, the Octobrist-liberal one, was 252 votes in the early period of the Third Duma and 235 at its end, and it has dropped to 226 in the Fourth Duma. Consequently, the government's "election campaign" was in effect a success; the government had its way, once again confirming its autocratic character in practice. For the cries about a Right-wing and nationalist majority were merely haggling. In reality, the government needs both majorities, both of which have a counter-revolutionary basis.

    It is impossible to lay too much stress on the last circumstance, which the liberals gloss over in order to fool the democrats, while the liberal labour politicians (liquidators) do the same thing from lack of intelligence. The bloc of the Cadets and Octobrists, which came to light so strikingly during Rodzyanko's election (and was perhaps even more strikingly revealed by the unseemly, slavish words of Rech about Rodzyanko's speech), is by no means just a "technical" matter. This bloc expresses the community of the counter-revolutionary sentiments of the bourgeoisie in general, from Guchkov to Milyukov; it is made possible only by these sentiments.

    On the other hand, the government, too, needs the liberal-Octobrist majority from the point of view of the entire system of the June Third regime. For the Third (and Fourth) Duma is not at all a "cardboard" institution,<"p497"> as it is often made out to be by the claptrap of the "Left" Narodniks, who are bogged down hopelessly in Ropshin-like experiences and "otzovist" phrases.[198] No, the Third and Fourth Dumas are a stage in the development of the autocracy and in that of the bourgeoisie; they are an attempt really to bring them closer together, a necessary attempt after the victories and defeats of 1905. And the failure of this attempt would be the failure not only of Stolypin and Makarov, or of Markov the Second and Purishkevich, but also of the "conciliator" Maklakov and Co. !

page 498

    The government needs a liberal-Octobrist majority in order to try to lead Russia forward while preserving the omnipotence of the Purishkeviches. As regards instruments for curbing or moderating unusually fast-moving over-zealous liberal-Octobrist "Progressism", the government has plenty of them -- the Council of State and many many more.



    The data quoted above provide interesting evidence of the evolution of the political parties, groupings and trends among the landlords and the bourgeoisie in the period of counter-revolution. The composition of the Third and Fourth Dumas hardly tells us anything about the bourgeois (peasant) or worker democrats, for the simple reason that the June Third system was devised with the express aim of ruling out the democrats. In the same way, the non-Russian parties, i.e., those not representing the "dominant" nationality, have been specially oppressed and stifled by the June Third system.

    We shall therefore pick out only the Rights, the Octobrists and the Russian liberals -- parties which have made themselves thoroughly comfortable within the June Third system and are protected by it against the democrats -- and look at the changes that have occurred in these parties.

Third Duma


Comparison of Fourth
Duma and beginning
of Third Duma



Rights .  .  .  .  .  .
Octobrists  .  .  .  .
Liberals (Progress-
   ists and Cadets)




  +41, i.e., +28 per cent 
-50  "   -34 "  " 
+29  "   +37 "  " 

    This shows clearly how the so-called "Centre" is dwindling among the privileged strata and how their Right and liberal wings are gaining strength. It is interesting to note that the number of liberals among the landlords and the bourgeoisie is growing faster than that of the Rights,

page 499

despite the emergency measures taken by the government to rig the elections in favour of the Rights.

    There are those who, in view of these facts, like to talk pompously about the aggravation of the contradictions of the June Third system, about the coming triumph of moderate bourgeois progressism, and so on. They forget, firstly, that while the number of liberals is growing among the landlords, and above all among the bourgeoisie, it is the Right wing of the liberals, which bases its policy entirely on "conciliation" with the Rights, that is growing fastest of all. We shall deal with this in detail in a moment. Secondly, they forget that the vaunted "move to the left of the bourgeoisie" is merely a symptom of the real move to the left of the democrats who alone are capable of providing the motive forces for a serious change in the regime. Thirdly, they forget that the June Third system is specially intended to take advantage, within very broad limits, of the antagonism between the liberal bourgeoisie and the reactionary nature of the landlords, there existing an even more profound common antagonism between these and all democrats, particularly the working class.

    To proceed. Our liberals like to pretend that the Octobrists' defeat was due to the "manipulation of the elections", which took away support from this "party of the latest government orders", and so on. Of course, in so doing the liberals themselves pose as an honest opposition, as independent people and, indeed, "democrats", while the distinction between a Maklakov and the Octobrists is in fact perfectly illusory.

    Look at the changes that have occurred between the Third and Fourth Dumas compared with those between the beginning and end of the Third Duma. You will see that in the Third Duma the Octobrist Party lost a greater number of its members (28) than in the Fourth Duma elections (22). This, of course, does not mean that there was no "manipulation of the elections", for it was done on the most reckless scale, especially against the democrats. What it does mean is that despite manipulation of the elections in every sort of way, and even despite government pressure and "politics" in general, a process of party demarcation is going on among the propertied classes of Russia, the feudal

page 500

reactionary Right wing of the counter-revolution becoming demarcated from the liberal-bourgeois wing of the same counter-revolution.

    The distinctions between the various groups and factions of the Right-wing and Octobrist Duma majority (Rights, nationalists, moderate Rights, the "Centre", Right Octobrists, and so on) are as unstable, indefinite, accidental, and often artificially constructed, as the distinctions within the Octobrist-liberal majority (Left Octobrists, Progressists, Cadets). What characterises the period we are passing through is not at all that the allegedly independent (Maklakov, of all people!) Constitutional-Democrat is forcing out the Octobrists who are dependent on the government. This is a silly liberal tale.

    The characteristic thing is that genuine class parties are in course of formation and that, in particular, the party of counter-revolutionary liberalism is becoming consolidated under cover of noisy oppositional exclamations and honeyed talk about "reconciliation of the government and the country".

    The liberal press, which is the most widespread in Russia, is doing its utmost to gloss over this process. We shall therefore turn once more to the precise data of the Duma statistics. Let us remember that we must judge parties, as well as individuals, by their deeds and not by their words. As far as deeds are concerned, the Cadets and Progressists make common cause on all the more important issues, and both groups made common cause with the Octobrists in the Third and Fourth Dumas, and in the recent elections (Yekaterinoslav Gubernia: the Rodzyanko-Cadet bloc!) on a whole series of issues.

    Let us now look at the data concerning the three parties.

Third Duma


Comparison of Fourth
Duma and beginning
of Third Duma



Octobrists  .  .  .  .
Progressists  .  .  .
Cadets)  .  .  .  .  .




  -50, i.e., -34 per cent 
+23  "  +92 "  " 
+ 6  "  +11 "  " 

page 501

    We see an enormous and steady decrease of the Octobrists; a slight decrease, and then a small increase, of the Cadets; and an enormous and steady increase of the Progressists, who have almost doubled their numbers in five years.

    If we take the data for 1908 reported by Mr. Milyukov in Yezhegodnik Rechi [*] for 1912, p. 77, we shall see the picture in even bolder relief. Mr. Milyukov considers that in the Third Duma in 1908 there were 154 Octobrists, 23 Progressists and 56 Cadets. Comparing the Fourth Duma with this, the increase in the number of Cadets is quite negligible and the number of Progressists is more than double.

    In 1908 the numerical strength of the Progressists was less than half that of the Cadets. Today it is over 80 per cent of that of the Cadets.

    Thus we arrive at the indisputable fact that the most characteristic feature of Russian liberalism during the counter-revolution (1908-12) is the tremendous growth of Progressism.

    And who are the Progressists?

    Both by composition and ideology, they are a cross-breed of Octobrists and Cadets.

    In the Third Duma the Progressists still called themselves Peaceful Renovators, and one of their leaders, the counter-revolutionary nobleman Lvov, was a Cadet in the First Duma. The number of Progressists in the Third Duma increased, as we have seen, from 25 to 36, i.e., by 11; of these 11 deputies, 9 came over to the Progressists from other parties, namely, 1 from the Cadets, 2 from the moderate Rights, 1 from the nationalists and 5 from the Octobrists.

    The rapid growth of the Progressists among the political exponents of Russian liberalism, and the success of Vekhi in "society" are two sides of the same medal. The Progressists did in practical politics what Vekhi advocated in theory as it spat at the revolution, repudiated democracy, extolled the dirty enrichment of the bourgeoisie as God's work on earth, and so on and so forth.

    In orating about reconciliation of the government and the country, the Cadet Maklakov merely sings the praise of what the Progressists are doing. <"fnp501">

    * Rech Yearbook. --Tr.

page 502

The further we move away from 1905 and 1906, the more obvious it becomes how very correct the Bolsheviks were at that time in exposing the Cadets when they were most exultant over their "victories", and in showing the true nature of the Cadet Party[*] which is now being more and more glaringly revealed by the whole course of events.

    The Russian democrats cannot win a single victory unless they drastically undermine the Cadets' "prestige " among the masses. Conversely, the virtual fusion of the Cadets with Vekhi and the Progressists is a condition for, and a sign of, the strengthening and consolidation of the democratic movement under the leadership of the proletariat.



    In most of the statements and articles on the elections, this question is pushed into the background more than any other, or is even obscured altogether. Yet it is the question of the ideological and political content of the election campaign, the most important question, one which has to be elucidated, or all other questions, and all the usual data on "opposition percentages" and so on, will completely lose their value.

    The most widespread reply to this question is that the issue was whether there was to be a constitution or not. That is how the Rights see it. That is how the liberals see it. The view that there were in effect two warring camps, one of them fighting for and the other against a constitution, runs through the entire Right-wing and liberal press. Mr. Milyukov, the Cadet Party leader, and Rech, the official organ of that party, put forward this theory of two camps in no uncertain terms, doing so, moreover, on behalf of the conference of the Cadet Party.

    But look at this "theory" from the standpoint of the outcome of the elections. How did it stand the test of reality?

    The first step of the new Duma was marked by a bloc of the Cadets and the Octobrists (and even some of the Rights) around the "constitutional" candidature of Rodzyanko, <"fnp502">

    * See present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 199-276. --Ed.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers' Party". -- DJR]

page 503

whose speech, alleged to contain a constitutional programme, was enthusiastically acclaimed by the Cadets.[*]

    The Octobrist leader Rodzyanko, who, as we know, is regarded as a Right Octobrist, considers himself a constitutionalist, as does Krupensky, the leader of the "Centre faction", or conservative constitutionalists.

    To say that the issue was over the constitution means saying nothing, for the question at once arises as to what kind of constitution is meant. Is it a constitution in the spirit of Krupensky or Rodzyanko or Yefremov-Lvov or Maklakov-Milyukov? And then comes an even more important question, one that does not concern wishes, statements or programmes -- all of which remain on paper -- but the real means of achieving the desired objective.

    With regard to this cardinal point (the only serious one), Mr. Gredeskul's statement -- reprinted by Rech (No. 117) in 1912 -- that there is no need for a new revolution, and that what is needed is "merely constitutional work", remains unrefuted and irrefutably correct. Ideologically and politically, that statement unites the Cadets and Octobrists much more closely and thoroughly than the assurances of devotion to a constitution, and even to democracy -- assurances repeated a thousand times -- are supposed to divide them.

    Probably some 90 per cent of all the newspapers read in Russia are Octobrist or liberal. This press, by suggesting to the reader the idea of two camps, one of which favours a constitution, exerts an immensely corrupting influence on the political consciousness of the masses. One has only to think that all this campaign culminates in Rodzyanko's "constitutional" declaration which Milyukov has accepted!

    In view of this state of affairs, one cannot insist sufficiently on repeating old truths of political science, truths that are forgotten by many people. In Russia, the urgent question is: what is a constitution?

    A constitution is a deal between the historical forces of the old society (nobiliary, serf-owning, feudal, absolutist) <"fnp503">

    * In addition to the Rech articles of the time, see Mr. Milyukov's statement in the Duma on December 13, 1912: "The Chairman [Rodzyanko] delivered a speech . . . he made his declaration, which we recognised to be our own " (Rech No. 343, December 14)!! There you have the Cadets' constitutional (don't laugh!) declaration!

page 504

and the liberal bourgeoisie. The actual terms of this deal, and the extent of the concessions made by the old order, or of the victories won by the liberal bourgeoisie, will depend on the victories of the democrats, of the broad mass of the people (primarily the workers), over the forces of the old.

    Our election campaign could have its culmination in Milyukov's acceptance of Rodzyanko's "declaration" only because what the liberals are actually seeking is not abolition of the privileges (economic, political, etc.) of the old society, but their division between (to put it briefly) the landlords and the bourgeoisie. The liberals are more afraid of the democrats' popular, mass movement than they are of reaction; this accounts for the liberals' impotence in politics, which is amazing from the standpoint of the economic strength of capital.

    In the June Third system, the liberals have a monopoly as a tolerated, semi-legal opposition, and the beginning of a political revival (to use a much too weak and inaccurate term) brings large sections of the new, rising generation of democrats under the influence of these monopolists. That is why the essence of the issue of political liberty in Russia today amounts to making it clear that there are three and not two warring camps, for it is only the latter camp, the one glossed over by the liberals, that really has the strength to achieve political liberty.

    The issue in the elections of 1912 was not at all a "constitution", for the Cadets -- the chief liberal party, which mainly attacked the Octobrists and defeated them -- identified themselves with Rodzyanko's declaration. The battle, held fast in the police grip of the June Third system, was fought over the awakening, strengthening and unification of an independent democratic movement free from the vacillation and "Octobrist sympathies" of the liberals.

    That is why it is a fundamental mistake to see the real ideological and political content of the election campaign only from the "parliamentary" standpoint. What is a hundred times more real than all "constitutional" programmes and platforms is the question of the attitude of the various parties and groups towards the political strike movement which marked the year 1912.

page 505

    One of the surest ways of distinguishing between the bourgeois parties of any country and its proletarian parties is to examine their attitude to economic strikes. A party which in its press, its organisations and its statements in parliament does not fight together with the workers in economic strikes is a bourgeois party, no matter how much it may avow that it is "popular", "radically socialist", and so on. In Russia, mutatis mutandis (the appropriate changes having been made), the same must be said about parties that wish to pass for democratic: don't invoke the fact that you have written on a certain slip of paper: "constitution, universal suffrage, freedom of association, equality of nationalities", and so on, for these words are not worth a copper but show me your deeds in connection with the political strike movement of 1912! Even this criterion is not quite complete, but it is a serious criterion nevertheless, and not an empty promise.



    An election campaign is of outstanding interest to any intelligent political leader because it furnishes objective data on the views and sentiments, and consequently interests, of the different classes of society. Elections to a representative body are comparable in this respect to a census of the population, for they provide political statistics. To be sure, these statistics may be good (in the case of universal, etc., suffrage) or bad (in the case of elections to our parliament, if one may call it that). To be sure, one must learn to criticise these statistics -- just as any statistics -- and to use them critically. To be sure, these statistics should be taken in connection with all social statistics in general; and strike statistics, for example, will often turn out -- for those who are not affected with the disease of parliamentary cretinism -- to be a hundred times more serious and profound than election statistics.

    Despite all these reservations, it is beyond question that elections supply objective data. Testing subjective wishes, sentiments and views by taking into account the vote of the mass of the population representing different classes should always be of value to a politician who is at all worthy of

page 506

the name. The struggle of parties -- in practice, before the electorate, and with the returns summed up -- invariably furnishes data serving to test our conception of the balance of the social forces in the country and of the significance of particular "slogans".

    It is from this standpoint that we shall try to look at the election returns.

    Regarding political statistics, the chief thing that needs to be said here is the obvious worthlessness of the greater part of them owing to the shameless application of administrative "measures": "clarifications", pressure, arrests, deportation, and so on and so forth -- without limit. Mr. Cherevanin, for example, who in Nasha Zarya No. 9-10 sums up data on several hundred electors in different curias, is compelled to admit that it "would be ridiculous " to take the drop in the percentage of opposition electors (compared with the elections to the Third Duma) in the second urban curia and in the peasant curia as proof of a swing to the right. The only curia in respect of which the Mymretsovs, Khvostovs, Tolmachovs, Muratovs and Co. were unable to carry out any rigging was the first urban curia. That curia showed an increase in the proportion of "opposition" electors from 56 to 67 per cent, with that of the Octobrists dropping from 20 to 12 per cent, and that of the Rights from 24 to 21 per cent.

    But while "clarifications" nullified the significance of election statistics regarding the electors, and while the democratic classes, excluded altogether from those privileged by the June Third system, personally experienced all the delights of those clarifications, nevertheless the liberals' attitude to the democrats became manifest in the elections. On this point objective data came to light which make it possible to test, by the experience of life, what the different "trends" thought and said prior to the elections.

    The question of the liberals' attitude to the democrats is by no means "only a party" question, i.e., one that is important only in terms of one of the strictly party lines. It is the most important question for anyone striving for political liberty in Russia. It is a question of how to achieve, after all, the object of the common aspirations of all that is decent and honest in Russia.

page 507

    The Marxists, in starting on the election campaign of 1912, put in the very forefront the slogans of consistent democracy as a counterpoise to liberal labour policy. These slogans can be tested in two ways: firstly, by the view and experience of other countries and, secondly, by the experience of the campaign of 1912. Whether the Marxists' slogans are correct or not should now be evident from the relationship which has actually come into being between liberals and democrats. What makes this test of slogans objective is that it is not we who tested them but the masses, and not merely the masses in general, but our opponents in particular.

    Did the relations between liberals and democrats during and as a result of the elections develop as the Marxists expected or as the liberals expected or as the liquidators expected?

    To get at the root of this matter, let us first recall those "expectations". At the very beginning of 1912, when the question of elections had only just been raised and when the Cadets (at their conference) unfurled the banner of a single opposition (i.e., two camps ) and<"p507"> the permissibility of blocs with the Left Octobrists, the working-class press raised the question of slogans through the articles of Martov and Dan in Zhivoye Dyelo, of F. L-ko[199] and others in Zvezda (Nos. 11 [47] and 24 [60], and in Zhivoye Dyelo Nos. 2, 3 and 8).

    Martov put forward the slogan: "Dislodge reaction from its Duma positions", and Dan, "Wrest the Duma from the hands of the reactionaries". Martov and Dan accused Zvezda of threatening the liberals and of striving to extort Duma seats from the liberals.

    Three positions stood out clearly:

    (1) The Cadets were for a single opposition (i.e., for two camps) and for the permission of blocs with the Left Octobrists.

    (2) The liquidators favoured the slogan: "Wrest the Duma from the hands of the reactionaries" and facilitate the Cadets' and Progressists' "advance to power" (Martov in Zhivoye Dyelo No. 2). No extorting of seats from the liberals for the democrats.

    (3) The Marxists were against the slogan: "Wrest the Duma from the hands of the reactionaries", for that would

page 508

mean wresting the landlord from the hands of the reactionaries. "The practical task that faces us at the elections is by no means to 'dislodge reaction from its Duma positions', but to strengthen the forces of democracy in general and of working-class democracy in particular" (F. L-ko in Zvezda No. 11 [47]).[*] We must threaten the liberals, extort seats from them, and go to war against them, undaunted by attempts at intimidation through cries about the Black-Hundred danger (same author, No. 24 [60][**]). The liberals "advance to power" only when the democrats win despite the vacillation of the liberals.

    The divergency between the Marxists and the liquidators is most profound and irreconcilable, however easy various good souls may think a verbal reconciliation of the irreconcilable. "Wrest the Duma from the hands of the reactionaries" is a whole range of ideas, a whole system of policy that objectively means transferring hegemony to the liberals. "Wrest the democratic movement from the hands of the liberals" is the opposite system of policy, one based on the fact that only a democratic movement which has ceased to be dependent on the liberals is capable of actually undermining reaction.

    Now see what became in reality of the fight which was so much talked about before it began.

    Let us take Mr. V. Levitsky of Nasha Zarya (No. 9-10) as a witness to the results of the fight -- certainly no one will suspect this witness of partiality towards Zvezda and Pravda.

    Here is how this witness assesses the results of the fight in the second urban curia, the only curia, as is known, where there was at least a remote resemblance to "European" elections and where it is possible, at least to some slight degree, to sum up the results of the "encounters" between liberals and democrats.

    The witness speaks of as many as 63 actions by the Social-Democrats, including 5 cases of forced renunciation of nomination, 5 agreements with other parties and 53 independent actions. Of these 53 cases, 4 were in four big cities and 49 during the election of electors. <"fnp508">

    * See present edition, Vol. 17, p. 490. --Ed.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "An Organ of a Liberal Labour Policy". -- DJR]
    ** Ibid., p. 561. --Ed.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "A Poor Defence of a Liberal Labour Policy". -- DJR]

page 509

    In 9 cases out of these 49, it was not known whom the Social-Democrats were fighting against, in three it was against the Rights (whom they defeated in all three cases), in one against the Trudoviks (the Social-Democrats winning), and in the other 36 cases, against the liberals (21 victories of the Social-Democrats and 15 defeats).

    Picking out the Russian liberals, we have 21 cases in which the Social-Democrats fought them. Here are the results:

   S. D.  

of S. D.

of cases

S. D. versus Cadets.  .  .  .  .
 "    "   other liberals[*]




Total .  .  .  .  .




    And so, the chief opponents of the Social-Democrats were liberals (36 cases against 3); the Social-Democrats suffered their chief defeats at the hands of the Cadets.

    Furthermore, out of five cases of agreement two were general agreements of the opposition against the Rights; in three "it may be a question of a Left bloc against the Cadets" (my italics; Nasha Zarya No. 9-10, p. 98). In other words, the number of agreements was less than one-tenth of the total number of actions. Sixty per cent of the agreements were against the Cadets.

    Lastly, the returns in four big cities were the following:

Votes cast (maximum figures)


St. Peters-




For Cadets .  .  .  .  .  .  .
 " Social-Democrats.  .  .
 " Octobrists  .  .  .  .  .
 " Rights .  .  .  .  .  .  .
 " Trudoviks  .  .  .  .  .





    * Progressists and Cadets together with Progressists or Trudoviks

page 510

    And so, in all the four big cities the Social-Democrats fought against the Cadets, who in one case won in the second ballot with help from the Octobrists (considering these to include the candidate of the Baltic Constitutional Party).

    The conclusions drawn by the witness himself are:

    "The Cadet monopoly of representation of the urban democrats is coming to an end. The Social-Democrats' immediate task in this field is to win representation from the liberals in all the five cities represented independently. The psychological [??] and historical [what about economic?] preconditions for this -- a 'swing to the left' of the democratic voter, the untenability of the Cadet policy, and the reawakening of proletarian initiative -- already exist" (Nasha Zarya, op. cit., p. 97).



    1. The facts have shown that the real meaning of the Cadet slogan of a "single opposition" or "two camps" was deception of the democrats, the liberals' fraudulent appropriation of the fruits of a democratic awakening, and the liberals' curtailment, blunting and frustration of this awakening of the only force capable of pushing Russia ahead.

    2. The facts have shown that the only election struggle that was at all like the "open", "European" type consisted precisely in wresting the democratic movement from the hands of the liberals. This slogan was a living reality, it expressed the awakening of a new democratic movement, an awakening that is actually taking place. As for the liquidators' slogan "Wrest the Duma from the hands of the reactionaries", it was a rotten invention of a circle of liberal intellectuals.

    3. The facts have shown that only the "furious" struggle against the Cadets, and only the "Cadet-eating" of which the liberals' spineless servants, the liquidators, accused us, expressed the real need of the real mass campaign, because the Cadets actually turned out<"p510"> to be even worse than we had painted them. The Cadets turned out to be outright allies of the Black Hundreds against the Social-Democrat Priedkalns and the Social-Democrat Pokrovsky![200]

    It is a historic turning-point in Russia: the Black Hundreds, who had gone to the length of blind hatred of the Cadets, whom they saw as their chief enemy, were impelled

page 511

by the course of events to back the Cadets against the Social-Democrats. This seemingly minor fact denotes a very great shift in party policies, showing how superficial in fact were the Black-Hundred attacks on the Cadets and vice versa, and how easily in fact Purishkevich and Milyukov found their bearings, and came to their unity against the Social-Democrats.

    Experience has shown that we Bolsheviks, far from underestimating the possibility of blocs with the Cadets (at the second stage and so on), rather continued to overestimate it, for what actually occurred in a number of cases was the formation of blocks between the Cadets and the Octobrists against us! This, of course, does not mean that we refused (as certain over-zealous otzovists of yesterday and their friends would have liked us to do) in a number of cases, such as at gubernia election meetings, to resort to blocs between ourselves and the Cadets against the Rights. What it does mean is that our general line (three camps; democrats against Cadets) was borne out and strengthened still further by experience.

    Incidentally, Levitsky, Cherevanin and other contributors to Nasha Zarya collected valuable data for our election statistics with the most commendable zeal and diligence. It is a pity they did not sum up the data -- which they evidently had -- on the number of cases of direct and indirect blocs of the Cadets with the Octobrists and Rights against the Social-Democrats.

    Priedkalns and Pokrovsky are not isolated cases, for there were many other cases of a similar nature at the gubernia election meetings. They should not be forgotten. They are worthy of serious attention.

    To proceed. Our "witness", who had to draw the above conclusions about the Cadets, gave no thought at all to the appraisal of the Cadet Party that these conclusions bore out. Who called the Cadets a party of urban democrats? And who had argued since March 1906, or even earlier, that this liberal party kept itself alive by deceiving the democratic voter?

    Now the liquidators have begun to chant like so many Forgetful Ivans: "The Cadet monopoly is coming to an end." Consequently, there was a "monopoly". What does this

page 512

mean? Monopoly is the removal of competition. Was Social-Democratic competition against the Cadets in 1906-07 removed to a greater extent than in 1912?

    Mr. V. Levitsky repeats a common phrase without thinking of the meaning of the words he is uttering. As he understands it, monopoly means "simply" that the Cadets predominated and that this is over now. But if you claim to be Marxists, gentlemen, you should really ponder, if only a little bit, on the class character of parties, and not treat so flippantly your own statements of yesterday.

    If the Cadets are a party of urban democrats, then their predominance is not a "monopoly", but a product of the class interests of the urban democrats! If, however, their predominance turned out, a couple of years later, to be a "monopoly", i.e., something accidental and abnormal from the standpoint of the general and fundamental laws of capitalism and relations between the classes in capitalist society, it follows that those who took the Cadets for a party of urban democrats were opportunists, that they were carried away by a short-lived success, bowed down before the fashionable splendour of Cadetism, and abandoned Marxist criticism of the Cadets for liberal servility to them.

    Mr. V. Levitsky's conclusion bears out entirely, word for word, the resolution on the class character of the Cadet Party adopted by the Bolsheviks in London in 1907, a resolution which the Mensheviks vehemently disputed. If the urban democrats followed the lead of the Cadets "by force of tradition and because they were simply deceived by the liberals ", as the resolution has it, then it is perfectly logical that the severe lessons of 1908-11 dispelled "constitutional illusions", undermined "tradition", exposed the "deceit" and thereby ended the "monopoly".

    Wilful or involuntary oblivion of the past, and an extremely thoughtless attitude towards precise, straightforward and clear answers to all important political questions and to verifying these answers by the ample experience of 1905-07 and 1908-12, is a much too widespread phenomenon nowadays. Nothing could be so ruinous to the awakening democratic movement as this oblivion and this attitude.

page 513



    Mr. Cherevanin, summing up the results of the election campaign, holds that the opposition had "49 seats wrested from it in a purely artificial manner, solely through recourse to quite exceptional measures". In his opinion, adding these seats to those that were really won would raise the total to 207, which is only 15 short of an absolute majority. The conclusion he draws is: "On the basis of the June Third system, barring artificial emergency measures, nobiliary feudal reaction would have been fully and decisively [??! ] defeated in the elections."

    "In the face of this enormous danger to the landownership of the nobility," he goes on to say, "clashes between priests and landlords are unimportant" (op. cit., p. 85).

    There you have the effects of the slogan of wresting the Duma from the hands of the reactionaries! Cherevanin has sorely punished Martov by reducing the latter's slogan to an absurdity and confirming, so to say, the results of liquidationist illusions along with the "results of the election campaign".

    A Progressist and Cadet majority in the Fourth Duma would have represented an "enormous danger to the landownership of the nobility "! This is a real gem.

    It is not a slip of the pen, however, but an inevitable result of the entire ideological content which the liberals and liquidators tried to impart to the election campaign.

    The tremendous growth of the role of the Progressists compared with the Cadets, the Progressists' embodiment in politics of the entire renegacy (Vekhism) of the Cadets, and the virtual transition to a Progressist position which the Cadets themselves effected tacitly and secretly, are all facts which the liquidators refused to see and which brought them to the "Cherevanin" gem. "One should not talk too much about the counter-revolutionary character of the Cadets" is what, or approximately what, the Trudovik (Narodnik liquidator) Mr. Vodovozov wrote at one time. Our liquidators took the same view.

    They even forgot the lesson of the Third Duma, where the Cadet Berezovsky in an official speech "interpreted" the

page 514

Cadets' agrarian programme, and proved it to be beneficial to the landed nobility. Think of expecting now, in 1912, an "enormous danger to the landownership of the nobility" from the "opposition" Duma of the landlords, or from the Progressists, those slightly repainted Octobrists.

    Look here, Mr. Cherevanin, indulge in your fantasies, but have a sense of proportion!

    We have an excellent illustration of the election results in connection with the Cherevanin summary of liquidationist tactics. The Fourth Duma approved, by 132 votes to 78, the Progressist formula of procedure.

    None other than the Octobrist Antonov officially expressed his complete satisfaction with this most commonplace, empty formula as being an Octobrist one! Mr. Antonov is right, of course. The Progressists submitted a purely Octobrist formula. They played their role, that of reconciling the Octobrists with the Cadets.

    Octobrism has been defeated, long live Octobrism! It is Guchkov Octobrism that has been "defeated" and the one that lives on is Octobrism of the Yefremov and Lvov brand.[*]



    It remains for us to examine the election returns for the worker curia, which is the most important.

    No one has had, or has,<"p514"> any doubt that this curia is on the side of the Social-Democrats. The fight waged here was not against the Narodniks, among whom resistance to Narodnik liquidationism (Pochin[201] in Paris and the Popular Socialists in St. Petersburg) or Narodnik otzovism did not occur, and this lack of resistance to decadent trends reduced the Left Narodniks to nil.

    The fight in the worker curia was waged only between the Marxists and the liberal labour politicians, the liquidators. In January 1912 the Marxists proclaimed frankly and clearly, openly and without any despicable evasions, <"fnp514">

    * Rech asserted on December 16 that the Social-Democrats had joined in voting for the Progressists' vile formula. That is incredible. Pravda says nothing about it. Perhaps the Social-Democrats who were sitting (or who rose to leave?) were "registered" as voting for.

page 515

that agreements in the worker curia (and in it alone) with the destroyers of the workers' Party were impermissible.[*]

    This fact is common knowledge. It is also common knowledge that the liquidators' August conference was described even by the conciliator Plekhanov as "pitiful" and liquidationist (despite the vows of Nasha Zarya ), and its resolutions as "diplomacy ", or deceit, to put it plainly.

    What did the election returns show?

    Did they, or did they not, provide objective data as to the relation of the January and August statements to reality? Whom did the working-class electors prove to be supporting?

    There are very precise statistical data on this, which the liquidators are trying (in vain!) to obscure, to hide, to drown with outcries and abuse.

    Beginning with the Second Duma (the First Duma was boycotted by most of the Social-Democrats), there are exact data on the number of deputies to the Duma from the worker curia, distributed among the various "trends" in the Social-Democratic Party. Here they are:

    Deputies elected to the Duma from the worker curia:



of Bolsheviks

Second Duma (1907) .  .  .  .
Third   "   (1908-12) .  .
Fourth  "   (1912) .  .  .  .




    These figures speak for themselves!

    In 1907 the Bolsheviks had a majority, registered officially, in the Party (105 Bolshevik and 97 Menshevik delegates). This means that the 47 per cent in the worker curia (the entire group comprised 18 Bolsheviks + 36 Mensheviks = 54) made up about 52 per cent in the workers' Party.

    In 1912, for the first time, all the six curia deputies were Bolsheviks. It is known that those six gubernias are the principal industrial gubernias. It is also known that a far greater proportion of the proletariat is concentrated in them than in the other gubernias. It is obvious, therefore, and has <"fnp515">

    * See present edition, Vol. 17, p. 469. --Ed.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "The Sixth (Prague) All-Russian Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.". -- DJR]

page 516

been fully proved by a comparison with 1907, that 67 per cent in the worker curia mean more than 70 per cent in the workers' Party.

    During the Third Duma, when the intelligentsia deserted the workers' Party and the liquidators justified this, the workers abandoned the liquidators. The liquidator Belousov's flight from the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma, and the turn of the whole group (three-quarters Menshevik) from Menshevism to anti-liquidationism[*] were signs and sure indications of the fact that the same process was going on among the workers. And the elections to the Fourth Duma proved this.

    That is why Oskarov, Martov, Cherevanin, Levitsky, etc., are incredibly indignant in Nasha Zarya, flinging hundreds of the most Purishkevichist "compliments" at an alleged circle that is alleged to be sectarian and Leninist.

    Sectarian circle indeed! A "circle" that in 1908-12 got from the worker curia steadily increasing support -- reaching 67 per cent of that curia in the Fourth Duma! They are clumsy polemicists, are the liquidators. They abuse** us as strongly as they can, but the result is the most flattering compliment for us.

    Settling controversial issues by an abundance of outcries, abuse and groundless assertions is just like a circle of intellectuals. The workers prefer something different, namely, objective data. And in Russia, her present political position <"fnp516">

    * The liquidator Oskarov admits this indisputable fact in an amusing manner, saying that the Bolsheviks "had their way : they split the group at the critical moment, in fact if not in form" (Nasha Zarya, op. cit., p. 3) -- meaning the Third Duma group. What he calls a "split" is either the liquidator Belousov's flight, or the fact that two members of the group were on a liquidationist newspaper and eight on an anti-liquidationist one, while the rest were neutral.
    ** The liquidators most readily raise a hullaballoo about St. Petersburg, bypassing the results of the elections for the worker curia, as if to say, "For shame!" It is a shame, of course, gentlemen! The shame is on those against whom a mandate was adopted that had been printed beforehand, i.e., approved by the organisation. It is disgraceful to back a person against a mandate. And it was still more disgraceful to refuse to cast lots when the result turned out to be 3 : 3. P., a Pravda man well known in St. Petersburg, plainly suggested casting lots to the liquidator M., but the latter rejected it!! Shame on the liquidators for the St. Petersburg elections!

page 517

being what it is, there is not, and cannot be, an objective measure of the strength and influence of a particular trend among the mass of the workers other than the working class press and the worker curia of the Duma.

    Therefore, liquidator gentlemen, the more you clamour and rail in Nasha Zarya and Luch, the more calmly we shall ask the workers to point out an objective criterion of connection with the masses other than the working-class press and the worker curia in the Duma.

    Let the readers who are being deafened with cries about the "sectarian" "Lenin circle" and so on ponder calmly these objective data on the working-class press and the worker curia in the Duma. These objective data show that the liquidators are shouting to cover up their complete defeat.

    But it is particularly instructive to compare the coming into being of Luch, which appeared on the day of elections owing to private initiative, and the coming into being of Pravda. The April surge of the working-class movement was one of the greatest historic surges of the workers' mass movement in Russia. Even according to estimates made by factory-owners, hundreds of thousands of workers joined in the movement. And that movement itself created "Pravda " as its by-product -- first by strengthening Zvezda and converting it from a weekly into a newspaper appearing every two days, and then by increasing workers' money collections for Pravda to 76 in March and 227 in April (taking into account only group contributions by workers).

    We have here a classical example of how a movement that has absolutely nothing to do with reformism, brings as a by-product either reforms or concessions, or an extension of bounds, and so on.

    The reformists are betraying the working-class movement when they restrict its great scope by reformist slogans (as do our liquidators). The opponents of reformism, however, not only prove loyal to the uncurtailed slogans of the proletariat, but also turn out to be the better "practical workers", for it is precisely broad scope and uncurtailed slogans that ensure the strength which yields, as a by-product, either a concession or a reform, or an extension of bounds, or at least a temporary necessity for the upper ranks to tolerate a disagreeable increase in the activity of the lower ranks.

page 518

    In 1908-12, while the liquidators were busy reviling the "underground", justifying "flight" from it and chattering about an "open party", the entire worker curia left them, and they were unable to use the first, and great, upsurge of the April-May tide!

    Mr. Martov in Nasha Zarya admits this circumstance which is so sad for him, couching his admission in particularly amusing terms. He reviles and describes as nonentities the Plekhanov and Vperyod groups, which the liquidators themselves were depicting only yesterday as "centres" and trends, in defiance of our demand that only Russian organisations should be taken into account. And Martov admits bitterly and angrily, amid a torrent of venomous (venomous in a Burenin style) words, that "Lenin's" "sectarian circle" "stood its ground" and "is even taking the offensive", "having entrenched itself in fields that have nothing in common with the underground" (Nasha Zarya, op. cit., p. 74).

    But this whole admission of Martov's evokes a smile. It is human nature that when the enemy makes a mistake we rejoice maliciously, but when he takes the right step we sometimes get into a childish temper.

    Thank you for the compliment you<"p518"> were forced to pay us, liberal liquidator! Since the end of 1908 we have been insisting on the use of open forms of the movement, and in the spring of 1909 we broke with a number of friends[202] over it. And if in these "fields" we proved to be a force, it was only because we did not sacrifice content for form. To use the form in good time, to seize hold of the April upsurge, and to win the sympathy, so precious to a Marxist, of the worker curia, it was essential not to renounce the old, not to treat it in a renegade fashion, but firmly to uphold its ideas, its traditions, its material substrata. It was those ideas that imbued the April upsurge, it was they that predominated in the worker curia in 1912, and only those who were loyal to them in all fields and all forms could advance in step both with that upsurge and with that curia.


page 537



  <"en196">[196] See Note 47.

    [Note 47 -- Lenin is referring to the decree of November 9 (22), 1906, on "Additions to Certain Regulations of the Existing Law on Peasant Land Ownership and Land Tenure", drafted by Stolypin and named the law of June 14, 1910, upon its enactment by the Duma and the Council of State. On November 15 (28), 1906, another decree was issued -- "On the Granting of Loans by the Peasant Land Bank on the Security of Allotment Lands". The two decrees granted the peasants the right to take over their allotments as personal property and the right to withdraw from the village commune and settle on otrubs or khutors. Khutor and otrub peasants could obtain subsidies through the Peasant Bank to buy land. The Stolypin agrarian legislation aimed at making the kulaks the new social mainstay of the autocracy in the countryside while preserving the landed estates and forcibly destroying the village communes.
    The Stolypin agrarian policy speeded up the capitalist evolution of agriculture in the extremely painful "Prussian" way, with the feudal landlords retaining their power, property and privileges. It intensified the forcible expropriation of the bulk of the peasantry and accelerated the development of the peasant bourgeoisie, whom it enabled to buy up the allotments of the peasant poor at a nominal price.
    Lenin described the Stolypin agrarian legislation of 1906 (and the law enacted on June 14 [27], 1910) as the second step, after the 1861 Reform, towards transforming the feudal autocracy into a bourgeois monarchy.
    Although the government vigorously advocated the withdrawal of peasants from the village communes, only some 2,500,000 peasant households withdrew from them in European Russia over nine years (1907-15). The right to secede from the village commune was used above all by the rural bourgeoisie, which was thus enabled to strenethen its farms. Some of the poor peasants who wanted to sell their allotments and end their connection with the countryside seceded too. The small peasants, crushed by want, remained poverty-stricken and backward.
    The Stolypin agrarian policy did not remove the main contra diction between the peasantry as a whole and the landlord class. Moreover, it brought further ruin to the mass of the peasantry and aggravated the class antagonisms between the kulaks and the peasant poor.]

   [p. 495]

  <"en197">[197] See Note 40.

    [Note 40 -- This refers to the unification of Germany which the German ruling classes undertook "from above" by means of the policy of "blood and iron", and through diplomatic intrigue and wars. The Prusso-Austrian war of 1866 resulted in the formation of the North-German Union, and the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 led to the formation of the German Reich.]

   [p. 495]

  <"en198">[198] By "Ropshin-like experiences " Lenin means the reactionary ideas and decadent sentiments which became widespread in the years of reaction among the Socialist-Revolutionary intelligentsia and found a particularly vivid expression in the writings of Ropshin (B. Savinkov).    [p. 497]

  <"en199">[199] F. L-ko -- a pseudonym of Lenin.    [p. 507]

  <"en200">[200] This refers to the Fourth Duma elections in Riga and Yekaterinodar, where the Cadets voted with the Right-wing Black-Hundred parties against the Social-Democratic candidates.    [p. 510]

  <"en201">[201] Pochin (L'Initiative ) -- a Narodnik-liquidationist periodical published by a group of Socialist-Revolutionaries. Its only issue appeared in Paris in June 1912.    [p. 514]

  <"en202">[202] This refers to the decisions of the Fifth All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. held in December 1908 and of the enlarged editorial board meeting of Proletary in June 1909 (see "The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, Russ. ed., Part One, 1954, pp. 195-205, 212-32).    [p. 518]