V. I.   Lenin

The Social-Democrats and Electoral Agreements


What conclusion follows from the foregoing in regard to electoral agreements? First of all, that our basic, main task is to develop the class-consciousness and independent class organisation of the proletariat, as the only class that remains revolutionary to the end, as the only possible leader of a victorious bourgeois-democratic revolution. Therefore, class independence throughout the election and Duma campaigns is our most important general task. This does not exclude other, partial tasks, but the latter must always be subordinate to and in conformity with it. This general premise, which is confirmed by the theory of Marxism and the whole experience of the international Social-Democratic movement, must be our point of departure.

The special tasks of the proletariat in the Russian revolution may seem at once to controvert this general premise on the following grounds: the big bourgeoisie has already betrayed the revolution through the Octobrists, or has made it its aim to put a stop to the revolution by means of a constitution (the Cadets); the victory of the revolution is possible only if the proletariat is supported by the most progressive and politically conscious section of the peasantry, whose objective position impels it to fight and not to compromise, to carry through and not to curb the revolution. Hence, some may conclude, the Social-Democrats must enter into agreements with the democratic peasantry for the whole duration of the elections.

But such a conclusion cannot be drawn from the absolutely correct premise that the complete victory of our revolution is possible only in the form of a revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. It has yet to be proved that a bloc with the democratic peasantry for the whole duration of the elections is possible and advantageous from the point of view of present party relationships (the democratic peasantry in our country is now represented not by one, but by various parties) and from the point of view of the present electoral system. It has yet to be proved that by forming a bloc with this or that party we shall express and uphold the interests of the truly revolutionary sections of the peasantry better than by preserving   the complete independence of our Party in criticising such-and-such democratic peasant parties, and in counterposing some elements of the democratic peasantry to others. The premise that the proletariat is closest to the revolutionary peasantry in the present revolution undoubtedly leads to the general political “line” of Social-Democracy: together with the democratic peasantry against the treacherous big-bourgeois “democrats” (the Cadets). But whether it leads to the formation at the present time of an election bloc with the Popular Socialists (Popular Socialist Party), or the Socialist-Revolutionaries cannot lie decided without an analysis of the features which distinguish these parties from each other and from the Cadets, without an analysis of the present electoral system with its numerous stages. Only one thing follows from it, directly and absolutely: under no circumstances can we during our election campaign confine ourselves to baldly and abstractly counterposing the proletariat to the bourgeois democrats in general. On the contrary, we must devote our whole attention to drawing a precise distinction, based on the historical facts of our revolution, between the liberal-monarchist and the revolutionary-democratic bourgeoisie, or, to put it more concretely, to the distinction between the Cadets, Popular Socialists, and Socialist-Revolutionaries. Only by drawing such a distinction shall we be able to determine most correctly who our closest “allies” are. But, firstly, we shall not forget that the Social-Democrats must watch every ally from the bourgeois democrats as they would an enemy. Secondly, we shall examine very carefully to see which is most advantageous: to tie our hands in a general bloc with some Popular Socialists (for instance), or to preserve complete independence so as to be quite free at the decisive moment to split the non-party “Trudoviks” into opportunists (P. S.’s) and revolutionaries (S.-R.’s), to counterpose the latter to the former, etc.

Thus, the argument about the proletarian-peasant character of our revolution does not entitle us to conclude that we must enter into agreements with this or that democratic peas ant party at this or that stage of the elections to the Second Duma. It is not even a sufficient argument for limiting the class independence of the proletariat during the elections, let alone for renouncing this independence.



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