V. I.   Lenin

On P. B. Axelrod’s Pamphlet The People’s Duma and a Workers’ Congress

Written: Written In October 1905
Published: First published in 1926 in Lenin Miscellany V. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 9, pages 417-419.
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.
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Analysis of the Pamphlet[1]

In connection with P. B. Axelrod’s little pamphlet entitled The People’s Duma and a Workers’ Congress, the following should be noted:

This is the prototype of all of Iskra’s follies — both of a parallel parliament and a deal with the Constitutionalists Democrats.

By and large, it is all playing at parliamentarianism — in the People’s Duma, and in arranging a deal with the Constitutionalists-Democrats — in the parliamentary interpretation of a “Workers’ Congress” with illustrations “from Lassalle” (who was working in conditions of a constitution ten years alter it had been won by a revolution).

We have no end of ineptitudes here: “the first and primary foundation” (page 13) “of serious negotiations and agreements between our party and liberal organisations”... of action. What kind?

{ { { Comrade P. B. Axelrod (is three years late! Can this be considered an agreement with a political party? It amounts to services rendered, technical in the first place, which were sufficient three years ago.

1) Material means...

2) premises...

3) arms “delivery”]

4) influence on public institutions, utilisation of connections

5) in the bureaucracy and the military, in the interests of open political action.

“School-level pedagogy”: even if the convoking of a People’s Duma and a Workers’ Congress is a failure   (page 12), “the agitation and organisational work done will not have been lost”.

Compare with an insurrection—can organisational work in one “have been lost”? No. And agitation work? No, since an insurrection is in progress, is a fact. As for the People’s Duma—that is a comedy, a phantom, a hollow phrase.

A saccharine approach to the workers.

Page.7: “of a constituent popular assembly, i.e., a really ’People’s Duma’.”

{ Not “i.e.” and not “really"}

(page 7) "’The duties’ of the People’s Duma

1°r; 1) “to present to the State Duma the demand that a constituent assembly be convened, and that it declare [?—and?] itself non-competent, without the right to function.”

2) ∼"∼ !! ha-ha! and what about the “right” to convene a constituent assembly?

11°r; 3) “to serve as the centre and spokesman of the will of all democratic (page 7) sections of the population, and organiser of defensive and offensive action by these sections against the government and its allies.”

Compare this nonsense with a provisional revolutionary government as the organ of insurrection.

A spate of meaningless words, and the reality of revolution. The difficulty of an uprising=the difficulty of climbing Mt. Blanc. The difficulty of a “People’s Duma” under the autocracy=“the difficulty” of flying through the air on to the top of Mt. Blanc.

Note should be taken of confirmation of our Central Committee’s opinion, as expressed in its leaflet, that Iskra’s plan is a piece of invention coming from abroad. Axelrod wants to bring round to his point of view his correspondent, who (a) (page 6) doubts whether the slogans of the People’s Duma and a Workers’ Congress will win over the mass of the people; (b) (page 14) has motivated the policy of an “active boycott” (page 15 and page 14 in fine).

Axelrod considers the policy of an active boycott reactionary and utopian

— reaction?—a conference of Social-Democrats+Osvobozhdeniye have settled this question. A coalition with the Black Hundreds?—fear of Moskovskiye Vedomosti and Novoye Vremya.

— utopia? Two “utopias”: insurrection and playing at parliamentarianism.

Which of these is being effected is shown by the general strike and street fighting all over Russia.

The utter jumble of ideas about a “deal”, an “agreement” (page7) “with the central organisations of liberal democracy”.

Complete inability to single out revolutionary democracy and indicate concrete slogans on a political agreement with the latter. Axelrod’s slogans are all of an Osvobozhdeniye nature.

Regarding a “workers’ congress”.

The Third Congress: utilisation of open action so as to create points d’appui for the Party.[2]

(Clear and precise.)

With P. B. Axelrod one cannot make out anything.

An All-Russia workers’ congress sans phrase (page 3)—or a “phrase”?

Quid est?

It would be best to have two congresses

1) a “General Congress” (page 4)

2) a “Social-Democratic congress” ("of members of a General Congress

?|| who share our programme, plus representatives of our Party organisations, for a reform of the whole Party”. Page 4)

|| The ridiculousness of a comparison with the Lassalle affair: 1) there was already a constitution then. 2) Then Lassalle was openly appealed to, and his appeal was an open one. 3) Then the formation of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiter-Verein was a pretext for abuse of “workers’ independent activity” against the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party.||


[1] Lenin’s pamphlet on this subject was not published.

[2] The reference is to the resolution written by Lenin and adopted by the Third Congress of the Party. It was worded, “On the Question of Open Political Action by the R.S.D.L.P.” (see present edition, Vol. 8, pp. 377-78).

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