V. I.   Lenin

Cadets, Trudoviks and the Workers’ Party

Published: Volna, No. 25, May 24, 1906. Published according to the Volna text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 10, pages 455-459.
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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However distorted popular representation in the State Duma may be by virtue of the election law and the conditions under which the elections were held, it nevertheless provides a fair amount of material for a study of the policies of the various classes in Russia. And it also helps to correct erroneous or narrow views on this question.

The correctness of the division of the bourgeois parties into three main types that the Bolsheviks insisted on in their draft resolution for the Unity Congress is becoming ever more evident.[1] The Octobrists, the Cadets, and the revolutionary, or peasant, democrats—such are these three main types. We cannot, of course, expect the full and final consolidation of the parties of each type: the open entry of the various classes in Russian society into anything like a free political arena is too recent for that.

The Octobrists are a real class organisation of the land lords and the big capitalists. The counter-revolutionary (anti-revolutionary) character of this section of the bourgeoisie is perfectly obvious. It stands on the side of the government, although still haggling with it over the division of power. The Heydens and Co. sometimes even merge with the Cadets in opposition to the old authorities, but this does not make even the most credulous people, who are taken in by all sorts of “opposition”, forget the real nature of the Octobrist Party.

The Cadets are the chief party of the second type. This party is not exclusively connected with any particular class in bourgeois society, but it is thoroughly bourgeois   none the less. Its ideal is a well-ordered bourgeois society, purged of feudal survivals and protected from the encroachments of the proletariat by institutions such as an Upper Chamber, a standing army, a non-elected bureaucracy, Draconian press laws, etc. The Cadets are a semi-landlord party. They want to ransom themselves from revolution. They long for a deal with the old authorities. They are afraid of independent revolutionary activity by the people. The more this party develops its public political activities, particularly in the Duma, the more marked become its inconsistency and instability. That is why the voices of short-sighted people, who are dazzled by momentary successes, in favour of supporting the Cadets, will never find wide support among the working class.

The third type of bourgeois party is the Trudoviks, i.e., the peasant deputies to the Duma, who issued their programme the other day. Revolutionary Social-Democrats have long been watching the rise of this type of political party’ in Russia. The Peasant Union was a nucleus of such a J)arty. The radical unions of propertiless intellectuals gravitated towards it to some extent. The Socialist-Revolutionaries developed in the same direction, growing out of the narrow shell that encased them as a group of intellectuals. The variety of types and shades of this trend fully corresponds to the variety of types and vast numbers of the “toiling” petty bourgeoisie in Russia. The main bulwark of this trend, of these parties, is the peasantry. Objective conditions compel the peasantry to wage a determined struggle against landlordism, against the power of the landlords an(l the whole of the old political system that is closely connected with it. These bourgeois democrats are compelled to become revolutionary, whereas the liberals, the Cadets and so forth, represent the bourgeoisie, whose conditions of existence compel it to seek a deal with the old authorities. It is natural also that the peasantry should clothe its aspirations in the mantle of utopias, i.e., unrealisable hopes, such as equalised land tenure under capitalism.

Being aware that its class interests differ from the interests of the revolutionary democrats, the proletariat is compelled to organise in a strictly independent class party. But its duty to criticise idle dreams never causes the socialist   proletariat to forget its positive duty to do all it can to support the revolutionary democrats in their struggle against the old authorities and the old order, warning the people against the instability of the liberal bourgeoisie, and counteracting the harmful effects of this instability by its fighting agreement with the revolutionary peasantry.

Such should be the basis of all the tactics, of the whole political conduct of the Social-Democratic proletariat at the present time. To be able to act in common with the peasantry, it must strive to enlighten, rouse, and draw the peasantry into the struggle, while at the same time steadily weaning it from its faith in “petitions” and “resolutions”, and in the Duma, that all-Russian institution for petitioners. “To make the broad masses of the people realise the utter uselessness of the Duma” (resolutions of the Unity Congress)—such is the proletariat’s task. And for the sake of joint actions with the peasantry, it must strictly refrain from isolated and untimely outbreaks. But bearing in mind this very same object—ensuring success in the inevitably coming struggle—it must most ruthlessly expose the instability of the Cadets, emphasise as clearly as possible “the utter uselessness of the Duma”, and most resolutely counteract every attempt to obscure the distinctions between the Cadets and the Trudoviks.

This is the light in which the socialist proletariat should appraise the relations between the Cadets and the Trudoviks. Take the land reform question. The Cadets advocate compensation. The Trudoviks declare only for some reward— perhaps in the shape of pensions, or free places in an alms house. Volna has already explained the vast difference between compensation and a free place in an alms-house. The workers’ party demands the confiscation of the land, i.e., alienation without compensation or reward, although, of course, it does not reject the idea of sheltering indigent landlords in alms-houses. Obviously, the workers’ party must support the Trudoviks against the Cadets. Compensation for the land has already once before had a most harmful effect in Russia, ruining the peasants, enriching the landlords and strengthening the old state power. Compensation can be advocated in Russia today only by those who are half-supporters of the government.

Take the political programme. The Cadets want an Upper Chamber and incomplete people’s rule. The Trudoviks emphatically declare that over a parliament elected by universal. etc., suffrage, there must be “no superstructure or barriers in the shape of a Council of State, House of Lords, Second Chamber. and so forth”. The Trudovik Group accepts almost in its entirety the workers’ minimum programme, including an eight-hour day, etc. Obviously, here, too, the workers’ party must support the Trudoviks in opposition to the Cadets.

Let us take the question of what to do with the land. The Cadets want to leave part of the land in the possession of the peasants and the landlords, and to transfer part of it to the state. The Trudoviks want to transfer all the land to the state, although not all at once, and to introduce equalised tenure. Obviously the Trudoviks go further than the Cadets in the struggle against landlordism, and against the private ownership of land in general. The workers’ party would be committing a gross error if, in this question as well, it did not support the Trudoviks in opposition to the Cadets. The fact that both parties are mistaken should not serve the workers’ party as an excuse for refusing t o support the genuinely revolutionary bourgeois democrats. Both the Cadets and the Trudoviks are mistaken in thinking that even part of the land can be transferred to a state that is far from democratic. Division of the land would be far better than transferring it to such a state. Unfortunately, the Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. also made this mistake by allowing for the transfer of part of the land to a “democratic” state, without specifying the degree and fulness of the democracy of that state. This comparison between the Cadet and Trudovik programmes shows up with particular clearness the mistake committed by the Social-Democratic Congress.

The Trudoviks are also mistaken in believing that “equalised” land tenure is possible in a commodity economy. The workers’ party must emphatically expose and refute this petty-bourgeois utopia.

But it would be unwise to allow this fight against the trivial dreams of the small proprietors, to obscure the genuinely revolutionary action of this class in the present   revolution. A Marxist cannot do that. This mistake is committed, for example, by Kuryer when it say& (No. 5): “In its main features, the Bill proposed by the Trudovik Group is far from satisfactory [this is true!] and does not deserve the support of the working class [this is not true!].”

In this, too, the workers’ party must support the Trudoviks in opposition to the Cadets, while preserving its complete independence. In exposing the mistakes of the Cadets and the Trudoviks, we must not forget that the latter go further than the former, that the Trudoviks’ mistakes will be of practical importance at a higher stage of the revolution than are those of the Cadets. With the help of the Cadets, the people are casting off illusions about the possibility of combining people’s freedom with the old authorities. With the help of the Trudoviks, the people will cast off illusions about the possibility of combining “equalisation” with capitalism. With the help of the Cadets, the people are casting off their first bourgeois illusions; with the help of the Trudoviks, the people will cast off their last bourgeois illusions. The Cadet illusions are an obstacle to the victory of the bourgeois revolution. The Trudoviks’ mistakes will be an obstacle to the immediate victory of socialism (but the workers are not uselessly dreaming about an immediate victory for socialism). Hence the vast difference between the Cadets and the Trudoviks: and the workers’ party must take this difference strictly into account.

If we did not do this, we would convert the socialist proletariat from the vanguard of the revolution, the more class-conscious adviser of the peasantry, into an unwitting accomplice of the liberal bourgeoisie.


[1] See pp. 157-59 of this volume.—Ed.

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