V. I.   Lenin

Revolutionary Days



Father Gapon

That Father Gapon is an agent-provocateur is a surmise that would seem to be borne out by the fact that he is a member and one of the ringleaders of the Zubatov society. Furthermore, the foreign newspapers, like our own correspondents, note the fact that the police deliberately allowed the strike movement to spread as widely and freely as possible, and that the government generally (and Grand Duke Vladimir in particular) wanted to provoke bloody reprisals under conditions most favourable to itself. The English correspondents even point out that the energetic participation of the Zubatovists in the movement could only have been of especial advantage to the government under the circumstances. The revolutionary intelligentsia and the class-conscious proletarians, who would have been the most likely to provide themselves with arms, were bound to keep aloof from the Zubatov movement, to give it a wide berth. The government thus had its hands free to play a winning game. The demonstration, so they reckoned, would be made up of the most peaceful, least organised, and most back ward workers; it would be child’s play for our soldiery to handle them, and the proletariat would be taught a whole some lesson; an excellent excuse would be furnished for shooting down anybody and everybody in the streets; at Court the victory of the reactionary (or Grand Ducal) party over the liberals would be complete; the harshest repressions would follow.

Both the English and the conservative German newspapers directly ascribe such a plan of action to the government (or to Vladimir). It is most likely true. The events of the bloody Ninth of January confirm this only too well.   But the existence of such a plan by no means rules out the possibility that Father Gapon was an unconscious instrument of this plan. That there is a liberal, reformative movement among certain sections of the young Russian clergy cannot be doubted; this movement has found its spokesmen both at meetings of the religio-philosophic society and in church publications. It has even been given a name of its own— the “New-Orthodox” movement. We cannot, therefore, flatly dismiss the idea that Father Gapon may be a sincere Christian Socialist and that it was Bloody Sunday which converted him to the truly revolutionary path. We are inclined to support this idea, especially since Gapon’s letters written after the massacre of January 9 declaring that “we have no tsar”, his call to fight for freedom, etc., are facts that speak for his honesty and sincerity; for it could not possibly be part of the duties of an agent-provocateur to agitate so powerfully for the continuation of the uprising.

However that may be, the policy of the Social-Democrats in regard to this new leader was self-evident: to maintain a careful, guarded, sceptical attitude towards this Zubatovist; in any case, to participate vigorously in the initiated strike movement (even though it was initiated by a Zubatovist); to popularise energetically the Social-Democratic views and slogans. As appears from the letters printed above, these have been the tactics followed by our comrades on the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.[1] “Cunning” as the plans of the reactionary Court clique may have been, the realities of the class struggle and of the political protest of the proletarians acting as the vanguard of the whole people have proved infinitely more so. That the plans of the police and the military have worked against the government, that out of the Zubatov movement, which served as a minor cause, there has emerged a great and extensive revolutionary movement embracing all Russia, is an established fact. Despite all police snares and stratagems, the revolutionary energy and the revolutionary instinct of the working class have asserted themselves with irresistible force.



[1] The letters mentioned by Lenin came from a Bolshevik in St. Petersburg and were published in Vperyod, No. 4, January 31 (18), 1905, under the heading “Letters of St. Petersburg Social-Democrats”.

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