V. I.   Lenin

The Peasant, or “Trudovik”, Group and the R.S.D.L.P.

Published: Volna, No. 14, May 11, 1906. Published according to the Volna text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 10, pages 410-413.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Yesterday we examined the attitude of the Social-Democrats towards the Workers’ Group in the Duma.[1] Let us now look at the question of the Trudovik Group.

This is the name of the group of 130 to 140 peasant deputies in the Duma who are beginning to dissociate them selves from the Cadets and to form an independent party. This process of dissociation is far from being completed, but it has become quite marked. Goremykin magnificently expressed this by his winged words: one-third of the members of the Duma (the Trudovik and Workers’ Groups together roughly make up one-third) are asking for the gallows.

These winged words have clearly defined the difference between the revolutionary and the non-revolutionary (Cadet) bourgeois democrats. In what way is the Peasant Group revolutionary? Not so much in its political demands—which are far from being stated in full—as in its agrarian demands. The peasants are demanding land, and all the land at that. The peasants are demanding land on terms that will really improve their conditions, i.e., without compensation, or with a very moderate compensation. In other words, the peasants are virtually demanding an agrarian revolution, and not agrarian reform. They are demanding a revolution that will not in the least affect the power of money: it will not affect the foundations of bourgeois society, but will very drastically undermine the economic foundations of the old serf-owning system, the whole of semi-feudal Russia—   Russia of the landlords and bureaucrats. That is why the socialist proletariat will with all its heart and all its energy help the peasants to achieve their demands in full. Unless the peasants are completely victorious over all their oppressors left over from the old order, it will be impossible to achieve the complete victory of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. But the whole people need such a victory, and the proletariat needs it in the interests of its great struggle for socialism.

But while supporting the revolutionary peasantry, the proletariat must not for a moment forget about its own class independence and its own special class aims. The peasant movement is the movement of another class. It is not a proletarian struggle, but a struggle waged by small proprietors. It is not a struggle against the foundations of capitalism, but a struggle to cleanse them of all the survivals of serfdom. The masses of the peasantry are engrossed in their great struggle. It naturally appears to them that by taking all the land they will solve the agrarian problem. They long for an equalised distribution of the land and for its transfer to all the toilers; but they forget about the pow er of capital, about the power of money, about commodity economy, which even under the “fairest” division will inevitably again give rise to inequality and exploitation. Engrossed in their struggle against survivals of serfdom, they do not see the subsequent, still greater and more arduous struggle against capitalist society as a whole for the complete achievement of socialism. The working class will always wage this struggle, and for this purpose will organise itself in an independent political party. And the harsh lessons of capitalism will inevitably enlighten the small proprietors more and more rapidly, convincing them that the Social-Democrats are right, and will induce them to side with the proletarian Social-Democratic Party.

The proletariat often hears the bourgeoisie say nowadays: you must march together with the bourgeois democrats. Without their aid the proletariat will be unable to carry out a revolution. That is true. But the question is: with which democrats can and should the proletariat march now? With the Cadet democrats, or the peasant revolutionary democrats? There can be only one answer to this question:   not with the Cadet democrats, but with the revolutionary democrats; not with the liberals, but with the masses of the peasantry.

Bearing this reply in mind, we must not lose sight of the fact that the more rapidly the peasants become enlightened and the more openly they act in politics, the more markedly do all revolutionary elements among the bourgeois democrats gravitate towards the peasantry and, of course, also towards the petty-bourgeois townsfolk. Minor distinctions become unimportant. What comes to the fore front is the primary question: are the various parties, groups and organisations going all the way with the revolutionary peasantry? More and more clearly we see the Socialist-Revolutionaries, certain independent socialists, the most Left of the radicals and a number of peasant organisations merging politically into one revolutionary democracy.

That is why the Right Social-Democrats at the Congress (Martynov and Plekhanov) were greatly mistaken when they exclaimed: “The Cadets are more important as a party than the Socialist-Revolutionaries.” Taken by themselves, the Socialist-Revolutionaries are a cipher. But as exponents of the spontaneous aspirations of the peasantry, the Social ist-Revolutionaries are a part of the broad, mighty revolutionary-democratic masses without whose support the proletariat cannot even think of achieving the complete victory of our revolution. The rapprochement between the Peasant, or “Trudovik”, Group in the Duma and the Socialist-Revolutionaries is not an accident. A section of the peasantry will, of course, understand the consistent point of view of the Social-Democratic proletariat; but the other section will undoubtedly regard “equalised” land tenure as the solution of the agrarian problem.

The Trudovik Group will no doubt play an important role both inside and, what is more important, outside the Duma. The class-conscious workers must do all in their power to increase their agitation among the peasants, to induce the Trudovik Group to separate from the Cadets, and to get this group to advance full and explicit political demands. Let the Trudovik Group organise itself more compactly and independently, let it enlarge the scope of its contacts outside the Duma, let it remember that the great land   question will not be settled in the Duma. That question will be settled by the people’s struggle against the old regime, and not by voting in the Duma.

Today there is nothing more important for the success of the revolution than this organisation, education and political training of the revolutionary bourgeois democrats. The socialist proletariat, while ruthlessly exposing the instability of the Cadets, will do everything it can to promote this great work. And in doing so it will shun all petty-bourgeois illusions. It will abide by the strictly class and proletarian struggle for socialism.

Long live the complete victory of the peasants over all their oppressors, the proletariat will say. That victory will be the surest earnest of success in our proletarian struggle for socialism.


[1] See pp. 402-05 of this volume.—Ed.

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