V. I.   Lenin

The Aggravation of the Situation in Russia

Published: Proletary, No. 23, October 31 (18), 1905. Published according to the text in Proletary.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 9, pages 411-412.
Translated: The Late Abraham Fineberg and Julius Katzer
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README

It is under this headline that the Berlin liberal Vossische Zeitung has published the following interesting dispatch:

"It is with irresistible force that events are developing in the empire of the tsars. To every impartial observer it must be obvious that neither the government nor any of the opposition or revolutionary parties is in control of the situation. The late Prince Trubetskoi and other professors of the higher educational institutions made vain attempts to dissuade the Russian students from the dangerous path, which they had taken when they decided to convert the universities into places of political mass meetings. The students paid enthusiastic homage to the memory of Trubetskoi, marched in masses in the funeral procession, and turned the obsequies into an imposing political demonstration, but they did not follow his advice to keep outsiders out of the University. At the University of St. Petersburg, the Mining Academy and the Polytechnic mammoth meetings are being held, at which the students are often in the minority, and which last from early morning till late at night. Impassioned and fiery orations are delivered and revolutionary songs are sung. Moreover, the liberals are roundly berated at these meetings, especially for their half-heartedness, which, it is claimed, is no accidental attribute of Russian liberalism, but a quality that has been conditioned by eternal historical laws.

"There is something profoundly tragic in these reproaches, which, despite the historical references adduced to substantiate them, are in fact absolutely unhistorical, if only because the liberals in Russia have never had the slightest opportunity of displaying any half heartedness that could in any way prejudice the cause of emancipation which is so important for all parties. It is not their deeds, but rather their sufferings that handicap the liberals in their life course. The government is just as helpless [italics in the original] in the face of these events as it is in the face of the labour troubles and the general unrest. It is possible, of course, that it is planning a new blood-bath, and is only waiting for the moment when the movement becomes ripe for a Cossack attack. But even if that should be the case, none of the powers that be is certain that it will not lead to a still more violent outbreak of disaffection. Not even General Trepov has faith in his own cause. He does not conceal from his friends that he considers   himself a doomed man, and that he expects no favourable results whatever from his administration. ’I am merely fulfilling my duty, and shall fulfil it to the end,’ he says.

"The tsar’s throne must he in a sad way indeed if the head of the police arrives at such conclusions. And indeed it cannot hut be recognised that, despite all of Trepov’s efforts, despite the feverish activity of endless commissions and conferences, the tension has not only failed to relax since last year, but has even become much more accentuated. Wherever one looks, the position everywhere has become worse and more threatening, everywhere the situation has become noticeably aggravated ."

There is a great deal of truth in this appraisal, but at the same time a great deal of liberal stupidity. “The liberals could not display a half-heartedness prejudicial to the cause.” Is that so? Why is it then that these poor liberals could nevertheless come forward more openly and freely than the other parties? No! The students are guided by a sound revolutionary instinct, enhanced by their contact with the proletariat, when they zealously disassociate themselves from the Constitutional-Democrats, and discredit these Constitutional-Democrats in the eyes of the people. The morrow will bring us great and epoch-making battles for liberty. It is possible that the champions of liberty will yet suffer more than one defeat. But defeats will only serve to stir up the workers and peasants ever more profoundly, will only render the crisis more acute, and will only make more formidable the inevitable ultimate victory of the cause of liberty. For our part, we shall bend every effort to prevent the bourgeois leeches of monarchist landlord liberalism from attaching themselves to this victory, and to prevent the gentlemen of the big bourgeoisie from deriving the main benefit from this victory, as has happened more than once in Europe. We shall bend all our efforts to bring this victory of the workers and peasants to its consummation, to bring about the utter destruction of all the loathsome institutions of autocracy, monarchy, bureaucracy, militarism and serf-ownership. Only such a victory will put a real weapon into the hands of the proletariat—and then we shall set Europe ablaze, so as to make of the Russian democratic revolution the prologue to a European socialist revolution.


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