First published in Pravda No. 96, July 14 (1), 1917.
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 148-150.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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It is known that when peasant deputies from all over Russia arrived in Petrograd for their All-Russia Congress, they were promised—by the Socialist-Revolutionaries and by the government—that the sale and purchase of land would be immediately prohibited.
At first, Minister Pereverzev really wanted to carry out that promise, and sent a telegram to stop all transactions involving the sale or purchase of land. But later some invisible hand intervened, and Minister Pereverzev withdrew his telegram to the notaries public, i.e., again permitted the sale and purchase of land.
The peasants began to worry. If I am not mistaken, they even sent a delegation to the Ministry.
The peasants were reassured. They were soothed as one soothes little children. They were assured that a law would be issued immediately prohibiting the sale and purchase of land and that Pereverzev’s temporary order had been “suspended” “only” because such a law was about to be issued.
The Socialist-Revolutionaries reassured the peasants and fed them with promises. The peasants believed them. The peasants felt reassured. The peasants went home.
On June 24—no earlier—news appeared in the papers that Minister Chernov, leader of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, had submitted a Bill to the government (no more than a Bill, as yet) to prohibit the sale and purchase of land.
On June 29, the papers published reports about a “private conference” of the Duma, held on June 28. At the conference, according to Rech (a paper of the majority party in the Provisional Government), Mr. Rodzyanko
“in his concluding remarks dwelt on the question of land transactions in connection with the new [oh yes, exceedingly new, new in the extreme!] government measures. He maintained that if land deals were prohibited, land would lose its value [for whom? For the landowners, obviously!! But isn’t it from them that the peasants want to take the land?], all security for loans would depreciate, and the landowners [the former landowners, Mr. Rodzyanko!] would be denied all credit. From what funds, asked Rodzyanko, will the landowners pay their debts to the banks? In most cases the debts are already overdue, and this Bill would lead to the immediate and legitimate abolition of all landed property without auctions.
“In view of this, Rodzyanko proposed that the conference should instruct the Provisional Committee to examine the matter in order to endeavour to prevent the enactment of a law that would be fatal to the state, not to private ownership of land.”
Here, then, is the “invisible hand” made visible! Here is the “cunning mechanism” of the coalition government, with its near-socialist Ministers, given away by this gentleman, this former Chairman of the former Duma, this former landowner, this former confidant of Stolypin the Hangman, this former protector of the agent .provocateur Malinovsky—Mr. Rodzyanko!
Let us even assume that now that Mr. Rodzyanko has so clumsily let the cat out of the bag, the law prohibiting the sale and purchase of land will at last be passed. At last!
But that is not the whole point. The point is that this striking example should make clear to all of us, and help the peasants understand, how and why the peasants were deceived. For the fact is incontrovertible and indubitable: they have deceived the peasants by not fulfilling immediately what they had promised to fulfil immediately at the All-Russia Congress of Peasants’ Deputies.
How did they deceive the peasants? By feeding them with promises. That is the “cunning mechanism” of every coalition government on earth, i.e., of every bourgeois Ministry which includes traitors to socialism. In these Ministries, former socialists serve—whether consciously or not makes no difference—as tools with which the capitalists deceive the people.
Why were the peasants deceived? Because the tools of deceit, the Socialist-Revolutionaries—we shall make the most favourable assumption about them—themselves failed to understand the cunning mechanism of class domination and class policy in the present administration of Russia. The Socialist-Revolutionaries allowed themselves to be led astray by talk. But actually, as the Rodzyanko “incident” shows very well, Russia is being ruled by a bloc between two blocs, by an alliance between two alliances.
One bloc is the bloc of the Cadets and the monarchist landowners, among whom Mr. Rodzyanko ranks first. The existence of this bloc as a political fact was shown to the whole of Russia during the Petrograd elections, when all the Black Hundred papers, all the papers to the right of the Cadets, supported the Cadets. Thanks to the Socialist- Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, this bloc has a majority in the government. This bloc delayed the prohibition of transactions involving the sale and purchase of land. It is supporting the landowners and the capitalists responsible for the lock-outs.
The second bloc is that of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, which has deceived the people by empty promises. Skobelev and Tsereteli, Peshekhonov and Chernov promised an awful lot. It is easy to make promises. The “socialist” Ministers’ method of feeding the people with promises has been tried in every advanced country in the world and has everywhere ended in failure. Russia’s specific feature is that owing to the revolutionary situation in the country the failure of the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties will be worse and will come sooner than usual.
Let every worker and every soldier use this example, which is particularly instructive to the peasants, to fully explain to the peasants how and why they were deceived!
The peasants can only achieve their ends in alliance with the workers, not in a bloc (alliance) with the capitalists.