V. I.   Lenin

The Political Crisis and the Bankruptcy of Opportunist Tactics


Let us now sum up our brief analysis of the Menshevik tactics during the critical days after the dissolution of the Duma.

Throughout the Duma period the Mensheviks advocated support of the Duma as a whole, support of the Cadets (under the guise of supporting the demand for the appointment of a Duma Cabinet). The Bolsheviks did their utmost to split the Trudoviks from the Cadets, and supported the idea of forming “an Executive Committee of the Left groups in the Duma

Whose tactics have proved right now, after the dissolution of the Duma? In conjunction with the Cadets, it was found possible to issue only the timid Vyborg Manifesto. The Cadets as a party did not support it; they did not participate in party agitation in support of it, nor did they pursue any further activities on those lines. Even our Mensheviks at once admitted that this Manifesto was inadequate. The timid Vyborg Manifesto was followed by others, bolder and more definite. The amalgamation of some of the individual ex-members of the Duma was followed by the amalgamation of the “committees” of two Duma groups, which signed a number of manifestoes and took part in a number of revolutionary conferences, and agreed to a war council of the revolution.

What were these two groups which, as groups, as collective bodies, survived the débâcle of the Duma, which did not lose their heads because the “constitutional” ground had slipped from under their feet?

They were the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks. The “Executive Committee of the Left groups”, advocated by the Bolsheviks, who supported the idea of forming a committee of that kind, has come into being. The Trudovik Group begot a new revolutionary organisation which has new ties with the peasantry; as for the Cadets, they are now politically dead, just as the Bolsheviks predicted, emphasising that “maggots are found near corpses, not near living people”.[1]

The fighting agreement between the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc., has now be come a fact, documented by the above-mentioned leaflets. We lost, and lost a great deal, of course, only because we started late in the day, because we had not thought matters out earlier, had not prepared the ground gradually, as the Bolsheviks recommended long ago, in their draft resolution at the Unity Congress.

Volentem ducunt fata, nolentem trahunt—which may be translated approximately as follows: the wise politician keeps ahead of events, the unwise is led by them. The Bolsheviks have been insisting for months past, if not for a whole year, that fighting agreements with the revolutionary democrats were inevitable; they have been insisting on the importance of a fighting alliance between the proletariat and the advanced peasantry in particular. The dissolution of the Duma compelled us to adopt such a course; but the Mensheviks, as we have already shown in our analysis of all the episodes of the Central Committee’s tactics, turned out to be unprepared, were “led” to it against their will and contrary to their convictions by the “unexpected” turn of events.

Take the question of an uprising. The Mensheviks did everything to “burke” it. At the Unity Congress they even passed a resolution against an armed uprising. Even now they say nothing about an uprising in “letters” No. 4 and No. 5, which the Central Committee wrote without the bid ding of other revolutionary organisations. But when it writes anything jointly with them, and at their bidding, we read direct and resolute calls for an uprising. Then the slogans, too, are revolutionary. Then not a word is said about resuming   the sessions of the Duma, or even about convening a constituent assembly through the medium of the Duma. On the contrary, we read the following (the manifesto “To the Whole People”): “Not an impotent Duma, but a constituent assembly with full power, on the basis of universal, etc., suffrage, this is the goal the people must strive to achieve. Not the tsar’s Ministers, but a power backed by the revolutionary people must convene this assembly” (our italics). This is the emphatic language our Central Committee uses when in the company of petty-bourgeois revolutionaries, such as the Committee of the Trudovik Group and the Polish Socialist Party!

Lastly, take the question of a provisional revolutionary government. For eighteen months our Mensheviks, headed by Plekhanov, have been arguing that Social-Democrats cannot participate in such a government jointly with bourgeois revolutionaries, and that it is Blanquism, Jacobinism, and all the other mortal sins to issue a slogan in favour of establishing a provisional revolutionary government.

And what happened? The Duma was dissolved, and the Central Committee was compelled to raise this very question of a provisional revolutionary government and of how it is to be constituted. Its complete unpreparedness for the question is apparent: it does not even understand that a provisional revolutionary government is the organ of an uprising. The Central Committee proposes that the remnants of the Duma, i.e., the Social-Democrats, the Trudoviks and some of the Cadets, be proclaimed a provisional revolutionary government. But look, comrades, see what all this amounts to: You are in fact inviting the socialists to take part in a provisional revolutionary government jointly with bourgeois revolutionaries! And you do this in spite of the fact that in the company of the Trudoviks and Left Cadets the Social-Democrats will form a negligible minority! Alas, alas! The doctrinaire talk about it being wrong for Social-Democrats to participate in a provisional government jointly with bourgeois revolutionaries evaporates at the first contact with reality. All the far-fetched arguments used to justify this wrong decision with the aid of false references to Marx vanish like smoke. Moreover, in addition to the bourgeois revolutionaries (the Trudoviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the   Polish Socialist Party, sections of the Peasant, Railwaymen’s and Teachers’ unions), our “strict” pseudo-Marxists intend, by fair means or foul, to drag into the future provisional government the bourgeois compromisers (the Cadets)!

Well, it is hard to imagine a more complete fiasco for opportunist tactics than that suffered by our Central Committee after the dissolution of the Duma. We must pull our Party out of this mire before it is too late.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 10, p. 264.—Ed.

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