V. I.   Lenin

What the Liberals Expect of the Duma

Written: Written in late October 1905
Published: First published in 1931 in Lenin Miscellany XVI. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 9, pages 425-426.
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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The liberals are trying to make the public optimistic regarding the composition of the Duma. Here is what the Frankfurter Zeitung correspondent wrote from St. Peters burg on October 14 (New Style): “Consideration of the results of the pre-election meetings now taking place leads one to the conclusion that the composition of the Duma will not be as bad as it seemed before. It may now be foretold with a certain degree of probability that conservative elements proper will hardly make up one half of the Duma. The moderate liberals and the liberals have the best chances of being elected, whereas the radicals’ prospects are far less favour able, though they may be called relatively good from the viewpoint of the pessimism with which the radicals regarded the future as recently as in August. There can hardly be any doubt that the radicals’ representation in the Duma will not be too weak. The only question is in what degree they will be able to make the liberals and the moderate liberals follow in their wake, since only if these three elements present a solid front to the conservative core will a constituent assembly be ensured.”

By radicals the correspondent undoubtedly means the Constitutional-Democrats. Their candidates in St. Peters burg are Nabokov, Kedrin, and Vinaver. The “moderate liberals” are not defined with any precision, but among their candidates mention has been made of Fyodorov (a conservative “proper”, but “one who might be supported by the liberals as well”!), and Nikitin (a candidate of the Right, but at the same time also a moderate-liberal candidate).

So a constituent assembly is “ensured”, with the liberals and moderate liberals subordinated to the leadership of the “radical” Osvobozhdeniye League members.... Indeed, here we have the liberal optimists “clutching at straws”. What is most curious is their failure to see that even should a Duma majority vote for a constituent assembly, it will not be the latter that will be “ensured” in actual fact, but only a determined revolutionary struggle for one. The Constitutional-Democrats would like to have two irons in the fire—to have dealings with the autocracy (legal opposition in a legal Duma), and with the revolution ("we have done our bit” for a constituent assembly).


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