V. I.   Lenin

The Dissolution of the Duma and the Tasks of the Proletariat


We are thus brought face to face with the second question, viz., the objective, historically dictated content of the impending struggle, and the slogans which we must provide for it.

Here, too, the not very steadfast Social-Democrats, the Mensheviks, have vacillated. Their first slogan was: fight for the resumption of the Duma sessions for the purpose of convening a constituent assembly. The St. Petersburg Committee protested against this. The absurdity of this slogan is too obvious. It is not even opportunism, it is sheer non sense. The Central Committee made a step forward with the slogan: fight against the government in defence of the Duma for the purpose of convening a constituent assembly. This, of course, is better. It is not far removed from the slogan: fight for the overthrow of the autocratic government in order to convene a constituent assembly in a revolutionary way. The dissolution of the Duma undoubtedly provides the grounds for a nation-wide struggle for a representative assembly of the people with power; in this sense the slogan “in defence of the Duma” is not entirely unacceptable. But the whole point is that in this sense this slogan is already implied by our acceptance of the dissolution of the Duma as the grounds for a struggle. Without the special interpretation of it in this sense (i. e., in the sense just mentioned) the formula “in defence of the Duma” remains obscure and is liable to create misunderstanding and to bring us back to the somewhat obsolete past, to the Cadet Duma. In short, this formula gives rise to a number of incorrect and harmful “retrograde” ideas. What is correct in it is wholly and entirely embodied in the reasons for our decision to fight, in the explanation of why the dissolution of the Duma is considered a sufficiently important ground for fighting.

Under no circumstances should a Marxist forget that the slogan of the immediately impending struggle cannot be deduced simply and directly from the general slogan of a certain programme. It is not sufficient to refer to our programme (see last part: The Overthrow of the Autocracy and the Constituent Assembly, etc.) in order to determine the   slogan of the struggle that is immediately impending now, in the summer or autumn of 1906. For this we must take into account the concrete historical situation, we must trace the whole development and the whole consecutive progress of the revolution; our tasks must be deduced not only from the principles of the programme, but also from the preceding steps and stages of the movement. Only such an analysis will be a truly historical analysis,, obligatory for a dialectical materialist.

And precisely such an analysis shows us that the objective political situation has now brought to the fore the question, not whether a representative assembly of the people exists, but whether this representative assembly ·has power.

The objective cause of the downfall of the Cadet Duma was not that it was unable to express the needs of the people, but that it was unable to cope with the revolutionary task of the struggle for power. The Cadet Duma imagined that it was a constitutional organ, but it was in fact a revolutionary organ (the Cadets abused us for regarding the Duma as a stage or an instrument of the revolution, but experience has fully confirmed our view). The Cadet Duma imagined that it was an organ of struggle against the Cabinet, but it was in fact an organ of struggle for the overthrow of the entire old regime. That is what happened in fact, because that is what the actual economic situation demanded. And for this struggle an organ like the Cadet Duma proved “useless”.

The thought that is now being hammered into the head of even the most ignorant muzhik is: the Duma is of no use; no Duma is of any use if the people do not have power. But how to get power? By overthrowing the old regime and establishing a new one, popular, free and elected. Either overthrow the old regime, or admit that the aims of the revolution in the scope set by the peasantry and the proletariat cannot be realised.

That is how life itself has put the question. That is how 1906 has put it. And that is how it has been put by the dissolution of the Cadet Duma.

We cannot, of course, guarantee that the revolution will solve this problem at one stroke, that the struggle will be   an easy and simple one, that victory is completely and absolutely assured. No one can ever give any such guarantees on the eve of the struggle. A slogan is not a guarantee of simple and easy victory. A slogan is an indication of the aim that must be achieved in order to fulfil certain tasks. In the past, such an immediate task was the creation (or convocation) in general of a representative assembly of the people. Now the task is to secure power for such a representative assembly. This means removing, destroying, over throwing the old regime, overthrowing the autocratic government.

Unless this task is fully carried out, the popular representative assembly cannot have full power; hence, too, there cannot be adequate guarantees that the new popular representative assembly will not share the fate of the Cadet Duma.

The objective state of affairs at the present time is bringing to the fore a fight, not for a popular representative assembly, but for the creation of conditions under which it will be impossible to disperse or dissolve it, impossible to reduce it to a farce, as Trepov & Co. did the Cadet Duma.


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