V. I.   Lenin

To All Working Men and Women of the City of St. Petersburg and Vicinity[1]

Written: Written after February 11 (24), 1906
Published: Published in February 1906 as a separate leaflet by the Joint St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. Published according to the manuscript checked against the leaflet text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 10, pages 127-130.
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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Comrade workers, the organised Social-Democratic workers of the whole St. Petersburg and Okruzhnoi organisation of the R.S.D.L.P. have adopted a final decision on the State Duma elections that is binding on the Party Committee and all the local Party organisations. Despite all police obstacles and traps, the workers have succeeded in holding 120 circle meetings, which have discussed the question in detail, with the participation of spokesmen for the two tactics which have emerged in our Party. Over 2,000 workers and intellectuals belonging to our Party have voted on the question, and by a majority of 1,168 votes to 926 (the number of voters totalling 2,094) they have declared for a complete boycott, not only of the Duma, but of all elections to it. The conference of delegates elected in all districts (one delegate for every 30 Party members who voted) discussed the question once more, and by 36 votes to 29 (the total number of delegates with the right to vote being 65) it adopted a final decision in favour of the tactics of an active boycott.

And so, the Social-Democratic proletariat of St. Peters burg has spoken. All the forces of the Party organisation, and all the efforts of the foremost workers who sympathise with the Social-Democratic Party and desire to take its decision into account, should now be directed towards acquainting the broadest sections of the working class and the population as a whole with the Social-Democrats’ decision, towards spreading among the masses a correct understanding of the aims which the class-conscious proletariat sets itself, and of the ways and means it chooses for achieving its aims.

Why have the Social-Democrats of St. Petersburg declared a complete boycott of the Duma and refused completely to participate in any elections to it?

Because the State Duma is a sham Duma. It is a travesty of a popular representative assembly. It is not a people’s Duma but a police and landlord Duma. The elections are not to be equal for all; they have been so devised as to give the landlords and the big capitalists complete superiority over the workers and peasants. Three-quarters of the whole working class have been totally deprived of the right to elect, and as for the remaining quarter, it is invited to elect on the basis of the deputies being sifted through three sieves, so that first the workers will elect delegates, then the delegates will elect electors, and then the electors (24 in all) will, jointly with the landlords and capitalists (over 100 in number), elect members of the Duma.

The government mocks at the peasants even more outrageously. Peasant deputies are sifted through four sieves: first, representatives per ten households are elected in the volosts (even so, the peasant poor who have neither house nor land are excluded from this election); then the ten-house hold representatives elect delegates, the delegates elect electors, and the electors elect members of the Duma, with the result, however, that among the electors in the gubernias the peasants mostly find themselves in the minority.

Why has this sifting through three or four sieves been devised? It has been done to prevent the workers and peasants from getting their real representatives elected to the Duma, to bar from the Duma people who are for the workers and peasants, to enable a handful of Black-Hundred landlords and capitalists, who are plundering the whole working people with the help of the police, to call themselves people’s representatives.

Workers and peasants, do not trust the police and landlord Duma! It is not people’s representatives but enemies of the people that are being convoked there, so that they may the more effectively plot against the workers and against the peasants. Look around you: How can the workers and peasants freely elect their real representatives, their deputies, to the Duma? Does not the police government jail the finest workers and finest peasants without trial? Shootings and   punitive measures carried out against peasants who fought for the people’s cause are taking place throughout Russia. The whole of Russia has been delivered into the hands of a gang of ruined petty aristocrats in military uniform to be plundered and outraged. All the promises of freedom that we have heard from the government have been trampled underfoot by the tyrants. All the prisons are packed with the champions of freedom for the people.

The government wants to deceive the people by convening a sham Duma. It wants, with the help of a landlord Duma, to borrow more money to oppress the people, to wage war against its own people, against the peasants and workers. The government wants to decoy us into a police trap, wants us to agree to participate in this fraud called the Duma elections.

The class-conscious workers refuse to walk into this police trap. Without resorting to any elections, we must tell the government and the whole people outright that we shall not take part in a farce. We shall not allow a fraud. We shall expose this police falsehood for all to see. We warn those workers and those, peasants who have not yet seen through the fraud and expect the Duma to benefit the people: If they try nevertheless to take part in the elections, they will see that it will not be workers’ or peasants’ deputies who get into the Duma, but capitalists and landlords who suit the police. We call on all workers and all peasants, on all honest people, to fight against the police fraud.

We are continuing our struggle for a genuine assembly of real representatives of the people. That assembly must be elected freely, and by all alike, without any privileges for the landlords and the wealthy, and without any hindrance on the part of the authorities and the police. Only a freely elected constituent assembly of the whole people can be a genuine Duma and not a sham one. Only such an assembly can establish a better order in Russia, make, life easier for the workers, give land to the peasants, and bring freedom to the whole people.

On October 17 the workers by their struggle wrested from the government the promise of freedom. The government has broken all its promises. The workers will now fight still more concertedly and stubbornly to win freedom for the   people. The workers do not lose heart from temporary re verses. They know that the struggle for freedom is difficult and severe, but that the cause of freedom is the cause of the whole people. The cause of freedom will triumph; the struggle will grow in breadth. The workers will recover from the reverses inflicted upon them. They will rally in still closer unity against the government. They will gather fresh strength. They will explain to still wider sections of the peasantry all the frauds of the government and the need to counteract it. The workers will rise together with the peasants and overthrow the government of police tyrants, who are using violence against the people.

Down with the sham, police and landlord, Duma!

Long live a freely elected constituent assembly of the whole people!


[1] Lenin wrote the leaflet “To All Working Men and Women of the City of St. Petersburg and Vicinity” following the St. Petersburg City Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. on February 11 (24), 1906, in line with its decisions.

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