Volna, No. 21, May 19, 1906. Signed, —&whatthe;.
Published according to the Volna text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 10, pages 432-433.
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. • README
Struve’s noblest feelings have been hurt. The government has proved to be more stupid than he thought, and he has found it to be downright unprofitable from a business point of view to deal with the government. Mr. Struve imagined politics to be a very simple thing; as he saw it, the Duma, i.e., the Cadet majority in the Duma, would bargain in courteous language customary in the most highly cultured merchant quarters; the government would come down a bit, the Duma in its turn would reduce the price, and thus the reign of freedom for the people would come about in Russia. The things the Cadet gentlemen did to bring this about! And suddenly the government shows such an utter lack of understanding, such a complete absence of commercial gumption!
Mr. Struve is indignant:
Of the demands and propositions of the Duma, it (the government) could have evaded some and others it could have accepted and made its own. It could have made radical concessions in the political sphere and tried to reduce some prices in the economic sphere. Or it could have done the opposite. But to reject all the essential points in all the disputed spheres, and to challenge the people’s need and the people’s conception of their rights by refusing a land reform based on compulsory alienation of private holdings, could have been done only by people whose statesmanship stands at the lowest level.
And so, the demands of the Duma, stated in its Address, constitute a disputed field; they are not something indispensable that has to be won by all and every means and which must immediately be extended further; they are only a basis for bargaining.
Amnesty, universal suffrage, liberties, and the forcible alienation of land are all disputable; one can haggle over all of them and—reduce the price, provided the government gives something in exchange.
This has to be remembered. In the heat of his indignation Mr. Struve has blurted out those Cadet tactics to which the Social-Democrats have always called the attention of the people.
The people’s demands, even in the curtailed and Cadet-tishly-distorted form in which they have been included in the Address, are not an indispensable minimum for the Cadet Party, but merely the highest price, which it was planned beforehand to reduce. To Mr. Struve’s regret, the deal has not come off—for lack of “statesmanship” on the part of the government. According to Mr. Struve’s testimony, that statesmanship stands at the lowest level. Why? For the simple reason that the Trepovs and Goremykins and Stishinskys refuse to bargain with the Cadets over the people’s rights, which they reject outright.
As for a high level of “statesmanship”, it is clear that it consists in openly selling the people’s freedom.
Mark that well, workers and peasants! On the eve of Goremykin’s Duma speech the Cadet gentlemen believed “statesmanship” to consist in striking a bargain with Trepov over a curtailment of the people’s demands expressed in the Address.
To the profound sorrow of the Cadet gentlemen, the deal just does not come off. The conflict between the real interests of the proletariat and the peasantry and the likewise real interests of the old regime, which is fighting to survive, cannot be forced into the framework of diplomatic deals. And it is not because of any particular “level of statesman ship” on the part of Mr. Struve or Mr. Trepov that the Russian revolution cannot adopt a Cadet course. The very nature of the conflicting interests is pushing the Russian revolution on to the path of an open struggle between the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces.
That is precisely why the gentlemen who are trading in the people’s freedom, and who serve as brokers during the revolution and as diplomats in a time of war, are doomed to be disappointed again and again.