V. I.   Lenin

The Victory of the Cadets and the Tasks of the Workers’ Party



The Role and Significance of a Cadet Duma

And so the State Duma will be a Cadet Duma, say the liberal newspapers. We have already said that this is quite probable. We can only add that even if, despite their present victories, the Cadets prove to be a minority in the Duma, it is not likely to affect very materially the course of the political crisis that is again maturing in Russia. The elements of this revolutionary crisis are too deep-rooted to be seriously affected by the composition of the Duma. The attitude of the broad masses of the people towards the government is quite clear. The attitude of the government towards the pressing needs of the whole of social development is more than clear. Naturally, in these circumstances, the revolution will advance. The predominance of the Black Hundreds in the First Duma can have only one probable delaying effect upon certain aspects of the political development of Russia: the collapse of the Cadet Party and of its prestige among the people will be delayed if the Cadets are now in the minority. At the present time it would be very convenient for them to be in a minority and to remain in opposition. The public would attribute the predominance of the Black Hundreds to the government’s repressive measures during the elections. The opposition speeches of the Cadets, who realise how “harmless” their opposition is, would be particularly fervid. Their prestige among the broad masses of the politically uneducated population might rise, in circumstances when their “words” sounded even louder than at present, while their “deeds” remained even more vague because of their being outvoted by the Octobrists. Even then, the growth of discontent with the government and preparations for a new revolutionary upsurge would continue; but the exposure of Cadet futility might be somewhat delayed.

Let us now make another assumption, a more probable one, if we are to believe the present assertions of the Cadet newspapers. Let us assume that the Cadets will have a majority in the Duma, consisting, of course, of the same combination of Cadets and various non-party, “petty-party” and other liberals that we now see in the elections. What will the role and significance of a Cadet Duma be then?

The Cadets themselves give a very specific answer to this question. Their statements, promises and high-sounding phrases breathe firmness and determination. And it is extremely important that we members of the workers’ party should carefully collect all these statements, keep them well in mind, spread them among the people and ensure by all means that these lessons in politics (which the Cadets are giving the people) are not wasted, that the workers and peasants know exactly what the Cadets are promising and how they carry out their promises.

In this pamphlet—which contains no more than the cursory comments of a wandering Social-Democratic publicist who by the grace of Durnovo and Co. has had to retire from journalistic work—in this pamphlet, we cannot hope to collect all, or even all the most important, statements and promises of the Cadets who are going into the Duma. We can only note one or two things in the literature that we happen to have at our disposal.

Here is the newspaper Narodnaya Svoboda, which started publication in December and was soon suppressed by the government. This was the avowed, official organ of the Cadet Party. It was edited by such pillars of this party as Messrs. Milyukov and Hessen. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the whole Cadet Party is responsible for its contents.

In its issue of December 20, Narodnaya Svoboda sets about convincing its readers that it is necessary to go into the Duma. What arguments does the Cadet organ advance in support of this? Narodnaya Svoboda does not attempt to deny that the political task that immediately confronts Russia is to convene a constituent assembly. The Cadet organ takes this for granted. The only question is, you see, who is to convene the constituent assembly? This question may be answered in three ways: (1) the present, i.e., in practice the autocratic, government; (2) a provisional   revolutionary government; and (3) the State Duma as “an authority competing with authority”. The Cadets reject the first two outcomes—they place no hopes in the autocratic government, and have no faith in the success of an insurrection. They accept the third outcome. They urge that it is necessary to go into the Duma because this is the best, surest, and so on and so forth, method of convening a national constituent assembly.

Mark this conclusion well, gentlemen! The Cadet Party, the party of “people’s freedom”, has promised the people to use the “authority competing with authority”, to use its predominance in the State Duma (if the people help it to achieve this predominance), to convene a national constituent assembly.

This is a historical fact. It is an important pledge. It will be the first test of how the party of “people’s freedom” (in inverted commas) will serve people’s freedom (with out inverted commas).

In the current issues of the Cadet Party newspapers (and. we repeat, nearly all the liberal newspapers, including Rus, Nasha Zhizn, etc., have virtually gone over to that party), you will no longer find this promise. You may find references to the “constituting functions” of the Duma; but nothing is said now about the Duma convening a national constituent assembly. As the time to back promises with deeds draws nearer, they already take a step backwards, they prepare a loophole.

Perhaps the whole trouble is that the present ferocious laws are preventing you from speaking openly about a constituent assembly? Is that so, gentlemen? But in the Duma, where your deputies will by law enjoy freedom of speech, you will again give full voice to your demand for the convocation—what am I saying?—you will convene the national constituent assembly, will you not?

Let us wait and see. And we shall not forget the Cadets’ promise to convene a national constituent assembly through the medium of the Duma. The Cadet newspapers now bristle with statements to the effect that they, the Cadets, will be “the government”, that they will be “in power”, and so on, and so forth. Good luck, gentlemen! The sooner you have a majority in the Duma, the sooner will your promissory notes   be presented to you for payment. The Cadet newspaper Rus, welcoming the victory of the party of “people’s freedom” in St. Petersburg, publishes in its issue of March 22 an impassioned article entitled “With the People or Against It?” It says nothing specifically about the Duma convening a national constituent assembly. But despite this step back from the Cadets’ promises, it paints a fairly rosy picture of the Cadets’ prospects:

The principal mission of the Duma that is about to assemble, and of the Party of People’s Freedom in it, is to be the whips and scorpions of the people’s anger.

After expelling and impeaching the criminal members of the government, it will have to deal only with urgent measures and then convene a real Duma—on a broader basis, the representative of the whole people [i.e., the constituent assembly?].

This is the indubitable function of the Duma, i.e., the function that the people itself now imposes on it.”

So. Expel the government. Impeach the government. Convene a real Duma.

Rus writes well. The Cadets speak well; they speak wonderfully well. It is only a pity that their newspapers are suppressed for these fine words....

Gentlemen, let us remember this new promise you have made on the day following the St. Petersburg elections; let us remember it very well. The Cadets are going into the Duma to expel the government, to impeach the government, to convene a real Duma.

Let us now pass from the Cadets’ promises regarding the Duma to the government’s “views” about the Cadet Duma. Of course, nobody is allowed to know exactly what these “views” are; but those same optimistic Cadet newspapers provide us with some material from which to appraise them. For example, the reports published about the proposed loan in France[4] appear to be more and more confident that this matter is settled, and that the loan will be floated before the Duma is convened. Thus, the government will, of course, be still less dependent on the Duma.

Then, as regards the prospects of the Witte-Durnovo Ministry, the same Rus (or Molva), in the article, quoted above, calls upon the government to “go with the people, i. e., with the Duma”. As you see, “expelling the criminal   members of the government” merely means making certain changes in its composition. The nature of these changes can be seen from the following statement in this newspaper:

Today, a Ministry formed by a man of repute like D. N. Shipov would be most advantageous even for the reaction. It alone could avert a final collision between the government and society in the Duma.” But we are assuming that “the worst happens”, observes the newspaper, anticipating the formation of a purely bureaucratic Ministry. “Here no proof is required,” says Molva. “It is obvious to everybody that if the government does not intend to rob the Duma of all significance, it must, it is in duty bound to, dismiss Durnovo, Witte and Akimov forthwith. And it is equally clear that if this does not happen, if this is not done, it will show that the gendarme policy of ’curbing and preventing’ is to be applied both to the representatives of the people and to the State Duma. And for this purpose, of course, the most suitable men are those whose arms are already steeped to the elbows in the blood of the people. It is quite obvious that if Mr. Durnovo remains in office with the Duma in opposition, it can only be for the purpose of dispersing the Duma. It has no other purpose, nor can it have. Everybody under stands this. It is understood on the stock exchange, and it is understood abroad." “To resist” the Duma means “sending the ship of state out into such a raging storm”, etc., etc.

Lastly, to complete the picture, we will quote the following report published in the Cadet Nasha Zhizn of March 21 about the “bureaucratic spheres”, concerning which this newspaper tries to give its readers as much information as possible.

The increasing successes of the Cadet Party have attracted the attention of the higher spheres. At first they were somewhat alarmed by these successes, hut now they are treating them quite calmly. Last Sunday a private conference of the highest representatives of the government was held to discuss this question, where this attitude became apparent, and, moreover, tactics, so to speak, were decided on. Incidentally, some very characteristic observations were made. Some held that a Cadet victory is positively to the government’s advantage, for, if the Bight elements were to win in the Duma elections, it would only play into the hands of the extreme groups, who would use the composition of the Duma as a pretext for conducting propaganda against it, and would argue that it was deliberately picked to ensure a reactionary majority. The more representatives of the Cadet Party there are   in the Duma, the more the bulk of the nation will respect it. As regards the tactics to be adopted towards the Duma, the majority held that there are no grounds for apprehending any ’surprises’ in view of ’the restrictions that are imposed on the Duma’, as one of those present candidly remarked. In view of this, the majority believed that the future members of the Duma should not be hindered, ’even if they do criticise individual members of the government’. A great many expect this, and the general opinion of the bureaucrats on this point can be summed up as follows: ’Let them talk’; ’there will be demands for proceedings to be taken; perhaps proceedings will he started, and so forth, and then they will get tired of it. What becomes of these cases, we shall see; meanwhile the members will have to concern themselves with questions affecting the country—and then everything will slip into its normal course. Even if the members take it into their heads to express no confidence in the government, that will not be serious either; after all, the Ministers are not appointed by the Duma’. It is reported that these arguments had a soothing effect even upon Durnovo and Witte, who were at first alarmed by the successes of the Cadet Party."

Thus you have the opinions, views and intentions of the persons directly interested and participating in these “affairs”. On the one hand, there are prospects of a struggle. The Cadets promise to expel the government and convene a new Duma. If the government attempts to dissolve the Duma, there will be “a raging storm”. The question therefore is: who will expel, or who will dissolve? On the other hand, there is the prospect of a deal. The Cadets think that a Shipov Minis try could avert a collision between the government and society. The government thinks: let them talk; let them even take one or two to court; after all, the Ministers are not appointed by the Duma. We have deliberately quoted only the opinions of those who are involved in the deal, and have quoted them entirely in their own words. We have add ed nothing. To have added anything would have weakened the impression created by the evidence of the witnesses. And their evidence gives us a vivid picture of what a Cadet Duma will be like.

Either a struggle, and in that case it will not be the Duma that will fight, but the revolutionary people. The Duma hopes to reap the fruits of victory. Or a deal, and then in any case it will be the people, i.e., the proletariat and the peasantry, who will be deceived. As regards the terms of the deal, men who are really business-like say nothing until the time is ripe. Only hot-headed “radicals” sometimes blurt it   out. Let us say, for example, the Ministry of bureaucrats is replaced by a Ministry formed by that “honest bourgeois”, Shipov; it will then be possible to strike a bargain that will be fair to both sides.... Then we shall come very, very near to achieving the Cadet ideal: first place for the monarchy; second place for a landlord and factory-owner Upper Chamber, with a Shipov Ministry that will harmonise with it, and third place for a “popular” Duma.

It goes without saying that this alternative, like every assumption concerning the social and political future, indicates only the main and fundamental lines of development. In real life, we often see mixed solutions; lines intercross—struggles alternate with deals, and struggles supplement the deals. This is exactly how Mr. Milyukov, in Rech of Friday, March 24, argues about the prospects that are already arising out of the Cadet victory, which is now evident. It is quite wrong, he says, to regard us as, and to declare that we are, revolutionaries. It all depends upon circumstances, gentlemen, says our “charming dialectician” for the edification of the powers that be; even Shipov was a “revolutionary” up to October 17. If you agree to a deal with us in a peaceful and friendly way, we shall agree to reforms and not revolution. If you do not agree, we shall probably have to exert some pressure from below upon you, release a little bit of revolution to frighten you, to weaken you by a blow struck by the revolutionary people, and then you will be more accommodating, and before you know where you are, we shall have got a better bargain.

Thus, the elements of the problem are as follows. A government is in power which the majority of the bourgeoisie avowedly do not trust, and which the workers and class-conscious peasants hate. The government has a tremendous force at its command. Its one weak spot is finance; and even that is not certain. It may still be able to raise a loan before the Duma assembles. Against the government, according to our assumption, stands the Cadet Duma. What does it want? Its bargaining price we know: the Cadet programme, i.e., a monarchy and an Upper Chamber, with a democratic Lower Chamber. What is its rock-bottom price? No one knows. Well, something in the nature of a Shipov Ministry, perhaps. True, Shipov is opposed to direct suffrage; but after   all, he is an honest man — we could probably come to terms with him, somehow. What are the Cadet Duma’s methods of fighting? To refuse to vote money. An unreliable method, first, because the government may probably get the money without the Duma; and secondly, because according to the law, the Duma’s right of control over finance is very, very slight. The other method is: “They will shoot.” You remember how Katkov depicted the attitude of the liberals towards the government: yield, or “they” will shoot.[5] But in Katkov’s time “they” were a handful of heroes who were unable to do anything except assassinate individuals. Today, “they” are. the whole mass of the proletariat, which in October showed that it was capable of amazingly concerted country-wide action, and in December showed that it was capable of waging a stubborn armed struggle. And now “they” also include the peasant masses, who have shown that they are capable of waging a revolutionary struggle, if in an unco-ordinated, unconscious and disunited fashion; but among them there are increasing numbers of those who, given appropriate conditions, given the slightest breath of free air (it is so difficult to escape the draught nowadays!), will be capable of leading millions. ’They” are not only capable of assassinating Cabinet Ministers; “they” can completely sweep away the monarchy, and all traces of an Upper Chamber, and landlordism, and even the standing army. “They” are not only capable of doing this, “they” will inevitably do it, if the severity of the military dictatorship.— the last refuge of the old order, last not in the light of theoretical calculations, but of acquired practical experience— is relaxed.

Such are the elements of the problem. How it will be solved cannot be predicted with absolute certainty. There can be no doubt about how we Social-Democrats want to solve it, and how all class-conscious workers and class-conscious peasants will solve it: by striving for the complete victory of the peasant uprising and for the winning of a really democratic republic. What will Cadet tactics be in these circumstances; what should they be, not according to what individuals want and think, but in virtue of the objective conditions of existence of a petty bourgeoisie in capitalist society fighting for its emancipation?

The Cadets’ tactics will certainly and inevitably reduce themselves to manoeuvring between the autocracy and the victory of the revolutionary people, and to preventing either of the opponents from finally and completely crushing the other. If the autocracy succeeds in finally and completely crushing the revolution, the Cadets will become powerless, for their strength is derived from the strength of the revolution. If the revolutionary people, i.e., the proletariat, and the peasantry rising in revolt against the whole system of landlordism, crush the autocracy finally and completely, and hence, sweep away the monarchy with all its frills and trimmings, the Cadets will also be powerless, for all the virile elements will desert them either for the revolution or for the counter-revolution; and the party will be left with a couple of Kiesewetters sighing about the “dictatorship”, and digging Latin dictionaries for the appropriate Latin terms. Briefly, the Cadets’ tactics may be formulated as follows: to ensure the support of the revolutionary people for the Cadet Party. By “support” they evidently mean such action by the revolutionary people as will, first, be entirely subordinated to the interests of the Cadet Party and carried out according to its instructions, etc.; and secondly, not be too resolute and aggressive, and above all, not be too drastic. The revolutionary people must not be independent, that is the first point; and it must not achieve final victory, it must not crush its enemy, that is point two. These are the tactics that, on the whole, will inevitably be pursued by the entire Cadet Party and by any Cadet Duma. And, of course, these tactics will be backed, defended and justified with the aid of the rich ideological stock-in-trade of “scientific” investigations,[1] “philosophical” obscurities, political (or politicians’) banalities, “literary-critical” squealing (d la Berdayev), etc., etc.

On the other hand, the revolutionary Social-Democrats cannot at the present time define their tactics by the pro position: support of the Cadet Party and a Cadet Duma. Such tactics would be wrong and utterly useless.

The retort to us will be, of course: What? Do you repudiate what is recognised in your programme and by all international   Social-Democracy? Do you deny that the Social-Democratic proletariat must support the revolutionary and oppositionist bourgeois democrats? Why, that is anarchism, utopianism, rebelliousness, senseless revolutionism.

But wait a minute, gentlemen. Permit us first of all to remind you that this is not a general, or abstract, question of whether to support bourgeois democrats in general, but a concrete question of whether to support precisely the Cadet Party and precisely a Cadet Duma. We are not repudiating a general proposition; we are demanding a special analysis of the conditions for applying these general principles in a concrete case. Truth is never abstract, it is always concrete. This is forgotten by Plekhanov, for example, who, not for the first time, is proposing, and laying special emphasis on the tactics: “Reaction is trying to isolate us. We must try to isolate reaction.” This proposition is correct, but it is ridiculously general: it applies equally to Russia of 1870, to Russia of 1906, to Russia generally, and to Africa, America, China and India. It tells us nothing and helps us in no way; for the whole problem is to define what reaction is, whom we must unite with, and how (or if not unite, then co-ordinate our activities with), in order to isolate reaction. Plekhanov is afraid to specify; but actually, in practice, his tactics, as we have already shown, amount to election agreements between the Social-Democrats and the Constitutional-Democrats, to Social-Democrats supporting the Cadets.

The Cadets are opposed to reaction? I turn again to Molva, No. 18 of March 22, which I have already quoted. The Cadets want to expel the government. That is splendid; that is opposition to reaction. The Cadets want to make peace with the autocratic government on the basis of a Shipov Ministry.[2] That’s bad. That’s one of the worst   forms of reaction. You see, gentlemen: abstract propositions, bald phrases about reaction, do not carry you a single step forward.

The Cadets are bourgeois democrats? That is true. But then the peasant masses, who are out for the confiscation of all the landed estates—which the Cadets don’t want—are also bourgeois democrats. Both the forms and the content of the political activities of these two sections of bourgeois democrats are different. Which of them is it more important for us to support at the present time? Can we, generally speaking, in the period of democratic revolution, support the former? Will it not mean betraying the latter? Or perhaps you will deny that Cadets who in politics are ready to resign themselves to a Shipov, in the agrarian question are capable of resigning themselves to a Kaufman? You see, gentlemen: abstract propositions, bald phrases about bourgeois democracy, do not carry you a single step forward.

But the Cadets are a united, strong and virile parliamentary party!

That is not true. The Cadets are neither a united, nor a strong, nor a virile, nor a parliamentary party. They are not united, for many of the people who voted for them are capable of fighting to the very end and not merely of striking a bargain. They are not united, for their social basis is inherently contradictory: it ranges from the democratic petty bourgeoisie to the counter-revolutionary landlords. They are not strong, for as a party they refuse to, and cannot, take part in the intense and open civil war that flared up in Russia at the end of 1905, and very likely will flare up again with added force in the near future. They are not a virile party, for even if their ideal is achieved, not they but the “solid” bourgeois, the Shipovs and Guchkovs, will be the power in the society formed in conformity with this ideal. They are not a parliamentary party, for we have no parliament. We have no Constitution; we have only a constitutional autocracy, only constitutional illusions,which are particularly harmful in a period of intense civil war, and which the Cadets are spreading with particular zeal.

This brings us to the pivot of the question. The specific feature of the present state of the Russian revolution is   that objective conditions are pushing into the forefront a resolute, extra-parliamentary struggle for parliamentarism; and for that reason there can be nothing more harmful and dangerous at such a time than constitutional illusions and playing at parliamentarism. At such a time the parties of “parliamentary” opposition may be more dangerous and harmful than completely and avowedly reactionary parties: this proposition may sound paradoxical only to those who are totally incapable of thinking dialectically. Indeed, if the demand for parliamentarism has fully matured among the widest masses of the people, if it is based on the whole of the age-long social and economic evolution of the country, and if political evolution has brought us to the point of achieving it, what can be more dangerous and harmful than a fictitious realisation of this demand? Avowed anti-parliamentarism is harmless. Its doom is sealed. It is dead. The attempts to resurrect it are only having the very good effect of revolutionising the more backward strata of the population. A “constitutional autocracy”, the creation and spreading of constitutional illusions, are becoming the only possible means of saving the autocracy. This is the only correct and wise policy the autocracy can pursue.

And I assert that at the present time the Cadets are doing more to help the autocracy to pursue this wise policy than Moskovskiye Vedomosti. Take, for example, the controversy between the latter and the liberal press as to whether Russia is a constitutional monarchy: It is not, says Moskovskiye Vedomosti. It is, say the Cadet newspapers in unison. In this controversy, Moskovskiye Vedomosti is progressive and the Cadet newspapers are reactionary; for Moskovskiye Vedomosti is telling the truth, exposing illusions, aussprechen was ist,[3] whereas the Cadets are telling a lie—a well-meaning, benevolent, sincerely-conscientious, beautiful, graceful, scientifically-smooth, Kiesewetter-varnished, drawing-room polite lie: but a lie nevertheless. And there is nothing more dangerous, nothing more harmful, in the present period of the struggle—considering the present objective conditions—than such a lie.

A slight digression. Recently I delivered a lecture on political topics at the house of a very enlightened and extremely amiable Cadet. We had a discussion. Our host said: Imagine there is a wild beast before us, a lion; and we two are slaves who have been thrown to this lion. Would it be appropriate if we started an argument? Is it not our duty to unite to fight this common enemy, to “isolate reaction”, as that most wise and most far-sighted of Social-Democrats, G. V. Plekhanov, so excellently puts it? The analogy is a good one, and I accept it, I replied. But what if one of the slaves advises securing weapons and attacking the lion, while the other, in the very midst of the struggle, notices a tab reading “Constitution” suspended from the lion’s neck, and starts shouting: “I am opposed to violence, both from the Right and from the Left”; “I am a member of a parliamentary party and stand for constitutional methods.” Under those circumstances would not the lion’s cub who blurted out the lion’s real intentions, be doing more to educate the masses and to develop their political and class consciousness, than the slave being mauled by the lion who was preaching faith in tabs?

The whole point is that, in using the stock argument that Social-Democrats must support the bourgeois democrats, people too often allow general abstract propositions to obscure the concrete situation, in which a resolute struggle for parliamentarism is maturing and in which the autocratic government is playing at parliamentarism as one of the means of combating parliamentarism. In such circumstances, when the final battle outside parliament still lies ahead, to advocate that the workers’ party should support the party of parliamentary compromisers, the party of constitutional illusions, would be a really fatal mistake, if not a crime against the proletariat.

Let us imagine that we have in Russia a firmly established parliamentary system. This would mean that parliament had already become the main form of the domination of the ruling classes and forces, that it had become the principal arena of the conflict of social and political interests. There would be no revolutionary movement in the direct sense of the term; the economic and other conditions would not be engendering revolutionary outbreaks in the period we are   assuming. No declamations, however revolutionary, could of course “call forth” revolution in such circumstances. It would be utterly wrong for Social-Democrats in such conditions to renounce the parliamentary struggle. It would be the duty of the workers’ party to take up parliamentarism most seriously; to take part in “Duma” elections and in the “Duma” itself; and to adjust all its tactics to the conditions favourable for the formation and successful functioning of a parliamentary Social-Democratic Party. In those circumstances, it would be our bounden duty to support the Cadet Party in parliament against all parties to the right of it. Then, too, it would be wrong categorically to object to election agreements with this party in joint elections, say, in gubernia election meetings (if the elections were indirect). More than that. It would be the duty of the Social-Democrats in parliament to support even the Shipovites against the real, brazen reactionaries. We would then say: reaction is trying to isolate us; we must try to isolate reaction.

Today, however, there is nothing like an established, universally-recognised and really parliamentary regime in Russia. The main form of domination of the ruling classes and social forces in Russia today is an avowedly non-parliamentary form; parliament is admittedly not the principal arena of the conflict of social and political interests. In these circumstances, it would be suicidal for the workers’ party to support the party of parliamentary compromisers. On the other hand, support for the bourgeois democrats who are operating in a non-parliamentary manner, even if spontaneously, sporadically and unconsciously (like the peasant outbreaks) comes to the forefront, becomes a real, serious business, to which all else must be subordinated. In such social and political conditions, insurrection is a reality, while parliamentarism is a plaything, an unimportant field of struggle, a bait rather than a real concession. Hence the point is not that we repudiate or underrate the importance of parliamentarism; and general phrases about parliamentarism do not affect our position at all. The point is that in the particular conditions precisely of the present stage of the democratic revolution the bourgeois compromisers, the liberal monarchists, while not denying that Durnovo may simply send the Duma packing, or that the law may finally reduce   this Duma to a cipher, nevertheless declare that parliamentarism is a serious affair and that insurrection is utopia, anarchism, rebelliousness, impotent revolutionism, or what ever else the Kiesewetters, Milyukovs, Struves, Izgoyevs and other heroes of philistinism may call it.

Let us imagine that the Social-Democratic Party had taken part in the Duma elections, and that a number of Social- Democratic electors had been elected. Having plunged into this stupid election farce, we would have had to sup port the Cadets to prevent the Black Hundreds from winning. The Social-Democratic Party would have had to conclude an election agreement with the Cadets. With the aid of the latter, a certain number of Social-Democrats would have been elected to the Duma. We ask, would the game have been worth the candle? Would we have gained or lost by this? In the first place, we would not have been able to inform the masses about the terms and the character of our election agreements with the Cadets from the Social-Democratic point of view. The Cadet newspapers, in hundreds of thou sands and millions of copies, would have spread bourgeois lies and bourgeois distortions of the class aims of the proletariat far and wide. Our leaflets and our little reservations in individual declarations would have been but a drop in the bucket. In practice, we would have turned out to be a dumb appendage of the Cadets. Secondly, by entering into an agreement we would undoubtedly, tacitly or openly and formally— it makes no difference—have undertaken before the proletariat a certain amount of responsibility for the Cadets; we would have vouched for them being better than all the others; we would have guaranteed that their Cadet Duma would help the people; we would have been responsible for the whole of their Cadet policy. Whether we would have been able to disclaim responsibility for any particular steps taken by the Cadets, by means of subsequent “declarations”, is an open question; and besides, the declarations would have remained mere declarations, whereas the election agreement would have remained a fact. But have we any grounds whatever for even indirectly vouching for the Cadets before the proletariat and the masses of the peasantry? Have not the Cadets given us thousands of proofs of their affinity with those German Cadet professors, with those “Frankfurt phrase-mongers”, who managed   to convert, not merely a Duma, but a National Constituent Assembly from an instrument for the development of the revolution into an instrument for toning down the revolution, for throttling (morally) the revolution? It would have been a mistake for the Social-Democrats to support the Cadet Party, and our Party has done the right thing in boycotting the Duma elections.

Even now it cannot be the task of the Social-Democrats to support the Cadet Party. We cannot support a Cadet Duma. In war, compromisers and deserters may be even more dangerous than the enemy. Shipov, at any rate, does not call him self a “democrat”, and the “muzhik” who wants “people’s freedom” will not follow his lead. But if the party of “people’s freedom”, after concluding a pact of mutual assistance with the Social-Democrats, were to strike a bargain with the autocracy to substitute a Ministry headed by this very Shipov for a constituent assembly, or were to confine its “activities” to making high-sounding speeches and proposing grandiloquent resolutions, we would find ourselves in a most false position.

To say that the task of the workers’ party at the present time is to support the Cadets would be the same as saying that the function of steam is not to drive a ship’s engine, but to keep up the possibility of sounding the ship’s siren. If there is steam in the boiler, it will be possible to sound the siren. If the revolution is strong, the Cadets will also be able to sound their siren. It is quite easy to imitate the sound of a siren, and in the history of the struggle for parliamentarism bourgeois betrayers of people’s freedom have many times imitated the sound of the siren and bamboozled simple-hearted folk who put their trust in various “first representative assemblies”.

Our task is not to support the Cadet Duma, but to use the conflicts within this Duma, or connected with it, for choosing the right moment to attack the enemy, the right moment for an insurrection against the autocracy. What we have to do is to take account of how the political crisis in the Duma and around it is growing. As a means of testing public opinion and defining as correctly and precisely as possible the moment when “boiling point” is reached, this Duma campaign ought to be of enormous value to us,   but only as a symptom, not as the real field of struggle. It is not the Cadet Duma that we shall support; it is not with the Cadet Party that we must reckon, but with those elements of the urban petty bourgeoisie, and particularly of the peasantry, who have voted for the Cadets, and who. will inevitably be disillusioned with them and get into a fighting mood. And the more decisive the victory of the Cadets in the Duma, the more rapidly will this take place. Our task is to use the respite that will be provided by an opposition Duma (and as the proletariat needs time to rally its forces properly, this respite will be very much to our advantage), to organise the workers, to expose constitutional illusions, and to prepare for a military offensive. Our task is to be at our post when the Duma farce develops into a new great political crisis; and our aim then will be, not support for the Cadets (at best they will be only a weak mouthpiece of the revolutionary people), but the overthrow of the autocratic government and the transfer of power to the revolutionary people. If the proletariat and the peasantry are victorious in their insurrection, the Cadet Duma will in a trice draw up a document declaring its association with the manifesto of the revolutionary government announcing the convocation of a national constituent assembly. If the insurrection is suppressed, the victor, exhausted by the struggle, may be compelled to yield a good half of his power to the Cadet Duma, which will sit down to the feast, as it were, and adopt a resolution deploring the “folly” of armed uprising at a time when a genuine constitutional system was supposed to be so possible and so near at hand.... Find the corpses, and you will always find the worms.


[1] Like those of Mr. Kiesewetter, who has discovered that “dictatorship” in Latin means reinforced security.—Lenin

[2] I may he told that this is a lie; that it was simply nonsense blurted out by the loquacious Molva. But excuse me, I think it is true. The loquacious Molva blurted out the truth—of course, the approximate, not literal, absolute truth. How can this dispute be settled? By reference to Cadet statements? But in politics I don’t believe in words. Cadet deeds? Yes, I would accept that criterion. And whoever inquires into the political conduct of the Cadets as a whole, will have to admit that what Molva has said is, in the main, true.—Lenin

[3] Speaks out what exists.—Ed.

[4] Under a treaty signed between the tsarist and the French governments in April 1906, the former was granted a lean of 843 million rubles to suppress the revolution in Russia.

[5] This refers to the article “Revelation of the Circumstances Attending the Events of March 1st”, which M. N. Katkov, a reactionary   publicist, contributed to Moskovskiye Vedomosti, No. 65, on March 6 (18), 1881.

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