V. I.   Lenin

Playing at Parliamentarianism

Published: Proletary, No. 18, September 26 (13), 1905. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 9, pages 265-280.
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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We have on repeated occasions (in Proletary, No. 12, before promulgation of the State Duma Act, and in Nos. 14 to 17 after August 6) enlarged on our tactics with regard to the State Duma, and now we must consider them anew in their relation to the new views expressed by Parvus (special reprint from Iskra, No. 110, the article: “Social-Democracy and the State Duma”).

Let us first follow Parvus’s main arguments step by step. He begins his article by stating, “We must fight to the last against a packed parliament, that mixture of baseness and paltriness”, and to this true statement he immediately adds the following, which is no less true: “We can overthrow the State Duma ... only by a popular uprising. Likewise, it is only by a popular uprising that we can force the government to change the election laws and extend the rights of the Duma.” Excellent. What, it may be asked, should be our slogans of agitation with regard to the State Duma? What are the main and particularly important forms of organisation for the struggle against the mixture of baseness and paltriness? Parvus puts the question in essentially the same way when he says: “What we, for our part, can contribute to the preparation of an uprising is agitation and organisation.” And here is how he answers the first part of this question, about the attitude to election meetings.

"If we interfere with these meetings,” writes Parvus, “if we disrupt them, we shall merely be rendering a service to the government.”

So Parvus is opposed to having the workers interfere with the attempts of a handful of landlords and merchants to limit the subject of discussion at election meetings to   the base and paltry State Duma? He is against workers taking advantage of the election meetings in order to criticise the “base” State Duma and to expound their Social-Democratic views and their slogans?

So it seems, but, immediately after the sentence quoted, Parvus states something that is already quite different. “What is not given to the workers voluntarily,” we read in his article, “they must take by force. They must show up at assemblies of voters en masse and transform them into workers’ meetings.” (The italics in the quotations are ours throughout—Editorial Board ofProletary”.) “Instead of discussing whether to elect Ivan Fomich or Foma Ivanich, they will put political questions on the agenda.” (Parvus probably wanted to say Social-Democratic questions, for the question of the election of Ivan or Foma is also a political question.) “At these meetings we can discuss the policy of the government, the tactics of the liberals, the class struggle, and the State Duma itself. All this will lead to the masses becoming revolutionised.”

Now see how it all works out in Parvus’s article. On the one hand, we must not interfere with the meetings of the Trubetskois, Petrunkeviches, and Stakhoviches. At the end of his article Parvus definitely condemns the idea of a boycott. On the other hand, we must show up at the meetings 1) by force; 2) “transform” the meetings of the Petrunkeviches and Stakhoviches into “workers’ meetings”; 3) instead of discussing the question for which the meetings have been called (whether to elect Foma or Ivan?), we must discuss our Social-Democratic questions—the class struggle, socialism, and, of course, the need for a popular uprising, the requisites for it, its aims, means and methods, weapons, and its organs, such as a revolutionary army and a revolutionary government. We say “of course”, for even though he did not say a word about preaching insurrection at the election meetings, Parvus himself acknowledged at the outset that we must fight to the last and that we can attain our immediate objects only by means of an uprising.

It is obvious that Parvus has got into a tangle. He fights against the idea of a boycott, does not advise interfering with meetings and disrupting them, and yet simultaneously, Bide by side with this, he advises breaking into meetings   by force (does this not mean “disrupting”?), transforming them into workers’ meetings (does this not mean “interfering” with the Petrunkeviches and Stakhoviches?), and discussing not the Duma, but our own Social-Democratic, revolutionary questions, which the Petrunkeviches do not want to discuss seriously, but which the workers and class-conscious peasants are very eager to discuss, and undoubtedly will discuss.

Why has Parvus got into such a tangle? Because he has failed to understand the point at issue. He set out to fight against the idea of a boycott, imagining that a boycott means mere abstention, rejection of the idea of utilising election meetings for the purposes of our agitation. Yet no one, even in the legal press, let alone the illegal press, advocates such a passive boycott. Parvus reveals utter ignorance of Russian political problems when he confuses a passive and an active boycott, when, in discussing the boycott, he does not devote a single word to an analysis of the second kind of boycott.

We have more than once spoken of the conventional meaning of the term “an active boycott”, and stated that there is no need for the workers to boycott the Duma, since the Duma itself is boycotting them. We, however, clearly defined the real content of this conventional term from the very outset, as far back as a month and a half ago, when we wrote in Proletary, No. i2, prior to the promulgation of the State Duma Act: “As distinct from passive abstention, an active boycott should imply increasing agitation ten fold, organising meetings everywhere, taking advantage of election meetings, even if we have to force our way into them, holding demonstrations, political strikes, and so on and so forth.” And somewhat further: “‘An active boycott’” (we give this term in quotation marks as a conventional term) “means agitation, recruiting, organising the revolutionary forces on a larger scale, with redoubled energy and bringing triple pressure to bear.”

This is expressed so clearly that only people completely alien to Russian political problems could fail to under stand it, or people with hopelessly confused thinking, Konfusionsräthe ("councillors of confusion”), as the Germans say.

Now then, what is it that Parvus really wants? When he advises breaking into election meetings by force, transforming them into workers’ meetings, discussing Social-Democratic questions and insurrection, “instead of discussing whether to elect Ivan Fomich or Foma Ivanich” (note “instead of” and not “together with, in addition to”), what he is advising is an active boycott. As you see, Parvus met with a slight mishap: he was heading for one door, but stumbled through another. He declared war on the idea of a boycott, but himself declared (on the question of election meetings) in favour of an active boycott, i.e., the only kind of boycott that was discussed in the Russian political press.

Of course, Parvus may object that conventional terms are not binding on him. Formally, such an objection would be justified, but it is worthless in essence. One must surely know what is under discussion. We are not going to quibble about words, but here we are dealing with political terms which have already taken root in Russia, on the scene of action—a fait accompli that must be reckoned with. Any Social-Democratic writer abroad who took it into his head to ignore slogans which develop on the scene of action would merely be displaying narrow-minded and sterile literary conceit. We repeat: no one in Russia ever spoke, and no one ever wrote in the revolutionary press, of any other boycott but an active one. Parvus might be fully entitled to criticise the term, reject its conventional meaning, or interpret it differently, etc., but to ignore it, or to distort the meaning it has already acquired, means confusing the issue.

We have pointed out above that Parvus says “not together with” but “instead of”. What Parvus advises is not bringing forward our Social-Democratic questions and the question of an uprising together with that of having Foma or Ivan elected, but bringing forward the question of the class struggle and an uprising instead of the question of elections. This distinction between “not together with” and “instead of” is highly significant and calls for attention, the more so that, as is shown by the further content of his article, it might have entered Parvus’s head to change the wording and say: not instead of but together with.

We must consider two questions: 1) Is it possible to discuss, at election meetings, the election of Ivan or of Foma “together with” the class struggle, socialism, and insurrection? 2) If that is possible, should the former and the latter questions be discussed together, or the latter in place of the former? Anyone who is familiar with Russian conditions will scarcely be at a loss in replying to these two questions. Getting into election meetings and transforming them into workers’ meetings calls for the use of force, i.e., crushing the resistance of the police and the military first of all. In the more or less important workers’ centres (and it is only there that the workers’ Social-Democratic Party can count on leading a really broad, popular movement), the resistance of the police and the military will be most serious. It would be plain folly on our part to shut our eyes to this. Parvus himself says that the “election agitation may at any moment turn into a revolutionary uprising”. If that is so, then it is our duty to take stock of our forces and adapt them to this very task of insurrection, and not to the task of furthering the election of Foma as against Ivan to the State Duma. If that is so, the main and central slogan of our entire Duma campaign of agitation should be one calling for an insurrection, a revolutionary army, and a revolutionary government. If that is so, then it is our duty, before and above all else, to advocate and explain these very slogans at each and every meeting. Hence, Parvus once again blows up his own argument in, on the one hand, expecting an uprising “at any moment”, and, on the other, maintaining complete silence about propaganda of insurrection and an analysis of its prerequisites, methods, and organs as the “mainspring” of the Duma campaign.

To proceed. Let us consider another contingency, possible in individual centres, especially the smaller. Let us assume that attempts to force our way into meetings do not give rise to a serious struggle against the government, or go so far as an insurrection. Let us assume that in individual instances these attempts are crowned with success. In that case, we must in the first place not lose sight of an institution called martial law. To every partial victory of the people over the police and the military, the government retaliates, as is probably known even to Parvus, by proclaiming martial   law. Does this prospect frighten us? No, because it is a step that brings the uprising nearer and renders the entire struggle in general more acute. Does it frighten the Zemstvos and the Duma electors generally? It undoubtedly does, for it would facilitate the arrest of the Milyukovs, for it provides the government with pretexts for banning some election meetings, and perhaps all meetings and the whole Duma to boot! Consequently, it all boils down again to the fact that some want an uprising, advocate it, make preparations for it, agitate for it, organise insurrectionary detachments, etc., whereas others do not want an uprising, struggle against the idea of insurrection, condemn the advocacy of insurrection as mad and criminal, etc. Is Parvus really ignorant of the fact that these “others” are all Osvobozhdeniye League members, i.e., even the extreme Left wing of the bourgeois democrats who may get into the Duma??

And (this in the second place) if Parvus does know this, then he must also know the following. Resistance to forcible entry into election meetings and to their transformation into workers’ meetings will be offered not only (and some times even not so much) by the police and the military, but by the Zemstvo and “Osvobozhdeniye” people themselves. Only infants can shut their eyes to this. The Zemstvo and the Osvobozhdeniye people pose the question more clearly and directly than some Social-Democrats do: either prepare an uprising and make it the hub of our agitation and all our work, or go over to the Duma platform and make it the basis of all political struggle. The Zemstvo and Osvobozhdeniye people have already solved this question, as we have often pointed out and emphasised in Proletary, beginning with No. 12. They call meetings precisely and solely in order to discuss the election of Foma or Ivan, Petrunkevich or Stakhovich, and to adopt a programme of “struggle” ("struggle” in quotation marks, struggle while wearing a lackey’s white gloves) based on the Duma, and not on insurrection. The Zemstvo and Osvobozhdeniye people (we are linking the two together purposely, for there are no grounds for drawing any political distinction between them) will certainly not be averse to admitting revolutionaries and Social-Democrats to a meeting of theirs (only when and where this can be done without recourse to any considerable   degree of force!!), if they can find among them stupid people who are ready to promise “support” to Foma as against Ivan, to Petrunkevich as against Stakhovich. But the Zemstvos will never tolerate any attempts to ’have their meetings transformed into workers’ meetings, to have their meetings turned into revolutionary mass meetings, to make open and direct appeals for armed insurrection from their tribune. It is even somewhat awkward to go into elaborate explanations of this obvious truth, but it has to be masticated for the benefit of Parvus and Iskra. The Zemstvo and Osvobozhdeniye people will inevitably resist such use being made of their meetings, although these bourgeois hagglers will of course offer resistance not by force, but by safer, “peaceful”, and circuitous means. They will enter into no deals with people who promise them “popular” support for Petrunkevich against Stakhovich, for Stakhovich against Gringmut, otherwise than on condition that election meetings are not turned into workers’ meetings, that their platform is not used for a call to insurrection. If they learn that workers are coming to their meetings (and they almost always will find this out, since one cannot conceal a mass demonstration) some of them will straightaway inform the authorities, others will take to urging the Social-Democrats to refrain, a third group will hasten to assure the Governor that “they are not to blame”, that they want a Duma, want to enter the Duma, and that they have always, through their “faithful colleague” Mr. Struve, condemned the “mad and criminal” advocacy of insurrection; a fourth group will advise changing the time and place of the meeting; a fifth group, those who are “bolder” and shrewder politically, will discreetly say that they will be delighted to hear the workers, will thank the Social-Democratic speaker, will scrape and bow to the “people”, will make high-flown, pretentious, and emotion-charged speeches assuring each and all that they are always for the people, heart and soul for the people, that they are with the people and not with the tsar, that “their” Petrunkevich said so a long time ago, that they “fully agree” with the Social-Democratic speaker about the “baseness and paltriness” of the State Duma, but that it is necessary, in the splendid words of that highly esteemed parliamentarian, Parvus, who so appropriately transplants   to non-parliamentary Russia the parliamentary patterns of the Vollmar alliances between the Social-Democrats and the Catholics—that it is necessary “not to interfere with the election campaign, but rather to extend it”; extending it means not senselessly jeopardising the fate of the State Duma, but getting the whole people to “support” Foma’s election instead of Ivan’s, the election of Petrunkevich and Rodichev instead of Stakhovich, Stakhovich instead of Gringmut, and so on.

In a word, the more stupid and the more cowardly the Zemstvos will be, the less chance will there be of their listening to Parvus at their election meeting. The more intelligent and bolder the Zemstvo people, the more chance of that will there be, and also the more chances, that, in his role of supporter of Foma against Ivan, Parvus will have proved the dupe.

No, my dear Parvus! So long as there is no parliament in Russia, applying the tactics of parliamentarianism to Russia means so much unbecoming playing at parliamentarianism, means turning into hangers-on to the landlords, instead of being leaders of the revolutionary workers and politically conscious peasants. To enter into secret deals with the Rodichevs and the Petrunkeviches about support for them against Stakhovich, as a substitute for temporary agreements between open political parties, which are non-existent in our country, means sowing corruption in the workers’ midst.

To the direct and clear slogan of the Zemstvo and Osvobozhdeniye people—down with criminal advocacy of insurrection, let us work in the Duma and through the Duma—we must reply with our direct and clear slogan—down with the bourgeois betrayers of liberty, the Osvobozhdeniye gentry and their like, down with the Duma, and hail the armed uprising!

To combine the insurrection slogan and “participation” in the elections of Foma or Ivan means introducing utter confusion, under the pretext of “comprehensiveness” and “multiformity” of agitation, and “flexibility” and “responsiveness” of slogans; in practice such a combination amounts to Manilovism. In practice, Parvus’s and Martov’s appearance before the Zemstvos in “support” of Petrunkevich against Stakhovich (admitting the possibility of exceptional   cases when such an appearance would be at all feasible) will not be an open appearance before the mass of the people, but the backstage appearance of a duped leader of the workers before a handful of betrayers of the workers. From the standpoint of theory or of the general principles of our tactics, to combine these slogans now, at the given moment, is a variety of parliamentary cretinism. For us revolutionary Social-Democrats insurrection is not an absolute slogan, but a concrete one. We put it off in 1897, in 1902 we put it forward in the sense of general preparations, and only after January 9, 1905, did we advance it as a direct appeal. We do not forget that Marx was in favour of an uprising in 1848, whereas in 1850 he condemned the ravings and phrase mongering about an uprising[5]; that before the war of 1870-71 Liebknecht denounced participation in the Reichstag, whereas after the war he participated in it himself. We at once stated in Proletary, No. 12, that it would be ridiculous to renounce for the future all struggle based on the Duma. We know that not only a parliament but even a travesty of a parliament may, when the conditions for an uprising are lacking, become the focal point of all our agitation for the entire period when an uprising is out of the question.

However, we demand a clear and precise presentation of the question. If you think that the period of insurrection is over in Russia—say so, and uphold your opinion openly. We shall appraise and discuss it thoroughly and calmly, from every angle, from the standpoint of the concrete conditions. But when you yourselves talk of the possibility of an uprising “at any moment” and of its necessity—then we denounce, and shall continue to denounce as miserable Manilovism, all the various disquisitions against an active boycott of the Duma. If an uprising is possible and necessary, then that is precisely what we must make the central slogan of the whole of our campaign around the Duma; then we must expose the venal soul of a “Frankfort Parliament windbag” in every Osvobozhdeniye adherent who shuns this slogan of insurrection. If an uprising is possible and necessary, that means there can be no legal centre for a legal struggle for the aims of the uprising, nor can Manilov-like phrase-mongering take its place. If an uprising is possible   and necessary, it means that the government “has placed the bayonet as the main point on the agenda”, has launched civil war, proclaimed martial law as a form of counter-criticism of democratic criticism; under such circumstances, to take the “near-parliamentary” signboard of the State Duma seriously, to begin to play a shady and furtive two some at parliamentarianism with the Petrunkeviches, means substituting the political chicanery of clowning intellectuals for the policy of the revolutionary proletariat.

Having shown the basic falsity of Parvus’s position, we can deal only briefly with a few of the most glaring manifestations of this falsity. Parvus writes: “Before the elections or after the elections, a legal basis for the existence of political parties is created in connection with the State Duma.” That is not true. What is actually being created now is a “legal basis” for governmental manipulation of elections. That basis is termed: 1) the Rural Superintendent (peasant elections are entirely under his thumb); 2) the secret police (the arrest of Milyukov); 3) martial law. When a “legal basis for the existence of political parties” (including the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party) is created in fact, and not in the language of journalists, then we shall have to reconsider the whole question of insurrection, for to us insurrection is only one of the important means, but one that is not always obligatory, of clearing the way for the struggle for socialism.

"It is necessary to come out immediately, not as individual social groups, not as lawyers, engineers, or Zemstvo members, but as liberal, democratic, Social-Democratic, parties—officially and openly. The representatives of the various tendencies could come to an agreement among themselves in this respect, just as agreements are made between the various parties in a parliament.”

Yes, this they can do, only not openly but in secret, for if Parvus has forgotten Trepov, Trepov has not forgotten Parvus. What Parvus terms a parliamentary agreement (sometimes indispensable to Social-Democrats in a parliamentary country) is in present-day Russia, in September 1905, the most contemptible playing at parliamentarianism.   The betrayers of the revolution are now making an agreement between the Osvobozhdeniye supporters and the revolutionaries their prime objective; the supporters of revolution—an agreement between the Social-Democrats and all revolutionary democrats, i.e., supporters of an uprising. If the new Iskra, Parvus, and Plekhanov[1] now enter into a “parliamentary” agreement with the Osvobozhdeniye group (about the latter forming a party—see above, the article entitled “Friends Meet”[2] ), we shall publicly declare that these Social-Democrats have lost all sense of reality and must go by the board. We shall then conclude an agreement with the revolutionary democrats on the basis of joint agitation for an uprising, for its preparation, and accomplishment.

We have already shown, in an analysis of the new-I skra resolutions (Lenin: Two Tactics), that Iskra is descending to the level of the liberal landlord, whereas Proletary is raising and inspiring the revolutionary peasant.[3]

"Each party should organise its own election committee for the conduct of the election campaign throughout the country. The parties should agree among themselves about practical measures for extending freedom of speech, of assembly, and so forth, during the elections. They should bind themselves by joint political responsibility” (just listen, fellow-workers! The new-Iskra group want to bind you to the Petrunkeviches! Down with the Petrunkeviches and the new-Iskrists!) “so that if an official representative of any political party is prosecuted as such by the police or is condemned in court, the representatives of all the other [!] parties should declare their solidarity with him and all together organise [!] a popular [??] protest and, if possible, [mark this!] a popular uprising in his defence.”

Good riddance to you, my dear Parvus! Organise protests and an uprising with the Petrunkeviches (democrats) and   the Stakhoviches (liberals)—our ways have parted. It is with the revolutionary democrats that we shall do that. Only, while you are about it, change your slogans as well, most esteemed heroes of “parliamentary agreement”. Instead of the slogan “an uprising is imperative”, just say: “an uprising, if possible, will supplement the protests”. Then all the Osvobozhdeniye supporters will agree with you! Instead of the slogan “universal and equal suffrage, direct elections and secret ballot”, advance the following: “If possible, the government should guarantee direct, equal, universal and secret suffrage”. Good riddance to you, gentle men! We shall patiently wait for Parvus, Petrunkevich, Stakhovich, and Martov to “organise a popular protest and. if possible, a popular uprising” in defence of Milyukov. For in our “near-parliamentary” era it seems to be more timely, gentlemen, to defend Mr. Milyukov than the hundreds and thousands of workers who are being arrested and beaten up!...

Parvus declares categorically: “We have no chance what ever of getting our representatives elected to the Duma independently.” Yet he writes: “If, however, election committees prove unfeasible. we shall still have to bend every effort to put up our own candidates.” Despite the qualifications demanded Parvus believes that “in individual cases the possibility of putting up Social-Democratic candidates is not excluded”. “One or two Social-Democratic candidates, irrespective of where they may be put up, will become a political slogan for the whole country.”

Thank you for at least being clear. But then, what stands in your way, gentlemen? The newspaper Bus long ago put forward its candidates, all those Stakhoviches, Petrunkeviches, and other betrayers of the revolution who cool their heels in Mr. Durnovo’s antechamber. Why is Iskra silent? Why does it not go from words to deeds? Why does it not put forward Axelrod, Starover, Parvus, and Martov as candidates for the State Duma? Try it, gentlemen, conduct an experiment, experimentum in corpore vili.[4] Try it, and we shall see at once which of us is right: you who believe that these candidates will become “a slogan for the whole   country”, or we who believe that at the present time these candidates will only play the role of buffoons.

Parvus writes: “The government has given a handful of people the right to elect a body which is to manage the affairs of the whole nation. This imposes on the artificially selected voters the duty of using their exclusive right with due regard to the opinion of the popular masses and of not being guided by arbitrary personal” (but by class and party?) “considerations. Our task is to remind them of this duty, force [!!] them to perform it, and we must stop at nothing in carrying out this task.”

This reasoning, quite naturally supplemented by the assurance that the tactics of (active) boycott expresses disbelief in the “revolutionary forces of the country” (sic!), is fundamentally wrong. It is a typically bourgeois-sentimentalist presentation of the question that all Social-Democrats should rise up against. Parvus’s reasoning is bourgeois, for he fails to see the class essence of the Duma—the agreement between the bourgeoisie and the autocracy. Parvus’s reasoning is so much empty and sentimental phrase-mongering, for he is prepared—even if fleetingly—to take seriously the false words of the Osvobozhdeniye adherents that they desire to “act with due regard to the opinion of the popular masses”. The esteemed Parvus is some three years behind the times. When the liberals had no press and no illegal organisation, whereas we possessed both, we helped them in their political development. History will not fail to record this service among the deeds of the Social-Democratic movement. But from political sucklings the liberals have now become the chief political wirepullers and have shown their treachery to the revolution in deed. To lay the main stress at the present time not on the need to expose the treachery of the bourgeois compromisers”, but to remind them of their “duty” to manage the affairs (not of the bourgeoisie, but) of the whole people, means toadying to the Osvobozhdeniye League! It is only they who can seriously seek an expression of “the revolutionary forces of the country” in the State Duma. The Social-Democrats know that the best we can achieve now is the neutralisation, the paralysing of the bourgeoisie’s efforts at treachery. The Zemstvo and the Osvobozhdeniye people are not “a revolutionary force of the country”, and you should feel   ashamed to be ignorant of that, Comrade Parvus. The proletariat and the peasantry, which is fighting against the landlords, are now the only revolutionary force in the democratic revolution.

The formulation of the conditions of proletarian support for the Osvobozhdeniye League is the gem of gems in Parvus’s remarkable article. “It is necessary,” writes Parvus, “to impose definite political demands on the opposition candidates who wish to avail themselves of our support.” “These might, for instance, be: 1) the demand in the Duma itself that it be immediately dissolved.and a constituent assembly convened, elected on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage by secret ballot; 2) the denial of all military and financial credits to the government until this demand is fulfilled.” (A poor Russian translation from the German, but the meaning is clear.)

One downward step is followed by another. One misstep on to an inclined plane, and the fall becomes headlong. Our supermen like Parvus and Plekhanov, who hold themselves aloof from both sections of the Party, loftily ignore those very new-Iskra resolutions for which they are morally and politically responsible. These supermen imagine themselves superior to both the “Majority” and the “Minority”; in actual fact they are inferior to both, since to all the shortcomings in the Majority they have been able to add the shortcomings in the Minority, as well as all the shortcomings of the turncoat.

Take Parvus. He has always gone hand in glove with Iskra, even when the plan of the Zemstvo campaign and of January 9 opened his eyes, though not for long, to its opportunist stand. Nevertheless, Parvus wanted to be considered a “conciliator”—most likely because of the fact that when, after January 9, he began to advance the slogan calling for a provisional government, the Bolsheviks were obliged to correct him and point out that his slogans contained elements of phrase-mongering. “No tsar, but a workers’ government !" Parvus vociferated under the impression of January 9. “Without the people, but with a liberal Duma!” is what his present “tactics” amount to after August 6. No, comrade, we shall not base our tactics on fleeting impulses, bowing to the exigencies of the moment!

Parvus has now concocted “new” conditions for the liberals.   Poor new-Iskrists, how exhausted they must feel after concocting “conditions” for an agreement with the Osvobozhdeniye League! At the Second Congress, Starover (see his resolution, which was rejected by the Third Congress) concocted one set of conditions, which immediately fell through, for neither in the plan of the Zemstvo campaign, nor now have these conditions been advanced in full by any of the new Iskrists who wrote about an “agreement” with the Osvobozhdeniye League. The new-Iskra Conference advanced other and stricter conditions in the resolution on the attitude to the liberals. Parvus of the Iskra bears moral responsibility for this resolution—but what do literary supermen care for mere resolutions drawn up with the participation of responsible representatives of the proletariat! Supermen snap their fingers at Party resolutions!

The new-Iskra resolution on the attitude to opposition parties states in black and white that the Social-Democrats “demand of all enemies of tsarism”:

"1) Active and unequivocal support of all determined action by the organised proletariat directed towards dealing fresh blows at tsarism.”

In proposing an “agreement” with the Osvobozhdeniye League and promising them “support”, Parvus demands nothing of the kind.

"2) Open recognition and unqualified support of the demand for a popular constituent assembly elected on the basis of universal, etc., suffrage, and open action against all parties and groups that are trying to curtail the rights of the people, whether it be by limiting suffrage or by accepting the grant of a monarchist constitution in lieu of a constituent assembly.”

Parvus repudiates the whole of the second part of these conditions. He even completely disregards the question of whom the Osvobozhdeniye League members in the Duma should “demand the convocation” of a constituent assembly from. From the tsar, no doubt? But why shouldn’t you convoke it yourselves, esteemed heroes of “parliamentary agreement”? Or are you no longer opposed to having it “granted” by the tsar?

"3) Resolute support of the working-class struggle against the government and the magnates of capital, for the right to strike and the right of association.”

Parvus exempts the Osvobozhdeniye League from this “condition”, evidently on the occasion of the Duma ’s convocation and the injuriousness of the tactic—“the worse, the better” (although in the same breath Parvus mockingly assures the reader that it would be worse if the Duma had legislative rights, i.e., that the one step towards something better, the one the Osvobozhdeniye League is striving for, is a step for the worse!!).

"4) Open resistance to all attempts by the government and the feudal nobility to suppress the peasant revolutionary movement by measures of barbarous violence against the persons and property of the peasants.”

Why have you forgotten this condition, my good Parvus? Can it be that you are no longer prepared to put this excellent demand to Petrunkevich? Stakhovich? Rodichev? Milyukov? Struve?

"5) Refusal to support any measures intended to preserve, in a free Russia, any restrictions of the rights of individual nationalities and any traces of national oppression.”


"6) Active participation in helping the people to arm them selves for the fight against reaction, and support for the Social-Democrats’ endeavours to organise an armed mass struggle.”

Why, my dear Parvus, have you forgotten these conditions?


[1] We mention Plekhanov because he has stated in print that Iskra’s tactic is better than Proletary’s. True, Plekhanov makes no mention of the new-“Iskra” resolutions and those of the Third Congress; however, dodges and evasions on the part of a Social-Democratic writer are a circumstance that enhances rather than extenuates the blame attaching to him.—Lenin

[2] See pp. 254-55 of this volume—Ed.

[3] See p. 47 of this volume.—Ed.

[4] An experiment on a vile body.—Ed.

[5] The reference is to the following works: K. Marx and F. Engels, Revue, Mai bis October, 1850; K. Marx, Enthüllungen über den Kommunistenprozess zu Köln (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Werke, Berlin 1960, Band 7, S. 440-41 and Band 8, S. 412-13).

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