Our commission has not come to any agreement. Six voted for the Bolshevik draft and six against. Five voted for the Menshevik draft and five against. One abstained. I must now briefly defend our Bolshevik draft to you, since the Polish Social-Democrats and the Latvians are in agreement with it.
We proceeded from the proposition that everything already stated in the resolution on the bourgeois parties must be deleted from the resolution on the State Duma, since the Duma struggle is only a part, and not the principal part, of our struggle against the bourgeois parties and the autocracy.
In the present resolution we speak only of what our policy in the Duma must be. As to an assessment of how we managed to get into the Duma, we deleted this part of the resolution— the point on the boycott—for the following reasons. It seems to me personally, and to all the Bolsheviks, that in view of the stand taken by all the liberal press we should have given an appraisal of how we got into the Duma. In opposition to the entire liberal bourgeoisie, the workers’ party must declare that, for the time being, we must reckon with such an ugly institution because of the treachery of the bourgeoisie. But the Latvian comrades were opposed to this point, and in order not to hinder the rapid completion of our work (and we must hurry if we are to end the Congress tomorrow as we decided) we withdrew this point. What the Congress wants is clear in any case, and lack of time makes it impossible to conduct debates on matters of principle.
I shall dwell on the basic ideas expressed in our resolution. In essence, all this is a repetition of what was said in our draft resolution at the Stockholm Congress. The first point stresses the complete uselessness of the Duma as such. This is a necessary idea, for extremely broad sections of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie in general still place the most naïve hopes on the Duma. It is our plain duty to dispel these naïve illusions, which are sustained by the liberals for their own selfish class ends.
The second part of the first point speaks of the uselessness of the parliamentary path in general, and about explaining the inevitability of an open struggle of the masses. Here we give an explanation of our positive views on ways of getting out of the present situation. We absolutely must emphasise it, and clearly repeat our revolutionary slogans, since wavering and vacillation, even among the Social-Democrats, is no rare thing in such a question. Let everyone know that Social-Democracy sticks to its old, revolutionary path.
The second point is devoted to an explanation of the relation between direct “legislative” activity in the Duma, and agitation, criticism, propaganda, organisation. The workers’ party regards the connection between work within and without the Duma very differently from the way the liberal bourgeoisie regards it. It is necessary to stress this radical difference of views. On the one hand, there are the bourgeois politicians, enraptured by their parliamentary games behind the backs of the people. On the other hand, there is a contingent of the organised proletariat that has been sent into the enemy camp and is carrying on work closely connected with the struggle of the proletariat as a whole. For us there is only one, single and indivisible, workers’ movement—the class struggle of the proletariat. All its separate, partial forms, including the parliamentary struggle, must be fully subordinated to it. For us it is the extra-Duma struggle of the proletariat that is decisive. It would not be sufficient for us to say that we take into account the economic interests and needs of the masses, etc. Such phrases (in the spirit of the old Menshevik resolution) are hazy and can be subscribed to by any liberal. Every liberal is ready to chatter about, the economic needs of the people in general. But no liberal would be willing to subordinate Duma activity to the class struggle; it is, however, precisely this view that we Social-Democrats must express with the utmost clarity. It is only by reason of this principle that we really distinguish ourselves from all possible varieties of bourgeois democracy.
It is sometimes pointed out (especially by the members of the Bund—alleged conciliators) that it is also necessary to note the contrary—the links between the extra-Duma Social-Democratic struggle and the work of the Social-Democratic Duma group. I maintain that this is false, and can only serve to sow the most harmful parliamentary illusions. The part must conform to the whole, and not vice versa. The Duma may temporarily serve as an arena of the class struggle as a whole, but only if that whole is never lost sight of, and if the revolutionary tasks of the class struggle are not concealed.
The next point in our resolution is devoted to the liberal policy in the Duma. The slogan of this policy—“save the Duma”—merely serves to conceal the liberals’ alliance with the Black Hundreds. We must frankly tell the people this, and explain it to them. The liberal slogan systematically corrupts the political and class consciousness of the masses. It is our duty to wage a ruthless struggle against this liberal haziness. By tearing the mask from liberalism, by showing that, behind the talk about democracy, there lurks voting hand in glove with the Black Hundreds, we shall be wresting the remnants of democracy from the bourgeois betrayers of freedom.
What must guide us in determining our Duma policy? Leaving aside all thought of engendering conflicts for their own sake, our resolution gives a positive definition of “timeliness” in the Social-Democratic sense of the word—we must take into account the revolutionary crisis developing outside the Duma, by force of objective circumstances.
The last point is devoted to the famous “responsible ministry”. It was not fortuitous, but inevitable, that the liberal bourgeoisie should advance this slogan to utilise the period of lull in its own interests, and weaken the revolutionary consciousness of the masses. This slogan was sup ported by the Mensheviks both in the First and Second Dumas, and during the period of the Second Duma Plekhanov said forthright in the Menshevik newspaper that the Social-Democrats should make this demand “their own”. Hence this slogan played a very definite role in the history of our revolution. It is absolutely essential for the workers’ party to define its attitude towards the slogan. We must not be guided by the fact that the liberals are not advancing this slogan at the moment: they have temporarily withdrawn it for opportunist reasons, but actually they are striving even more earnestly to come to terms with tsarism. And the slogan “a Duma ministry” most graphically expresses this innate tendency of liberalism towards a deal with tsarism.
We do not and cannot deny that a Duma ministry may prove a stage in the revolution, or that circumstances may force us to utilise it. That is not the point. The Social-Democrats utilise reforms as a by-product of the revolutionary class struggle of the proletariat, but it is not our business to mobilise the people for half-hearted reforms that are not feasible without a revolutionary struggle. The Social-Democrats must expose all the inconsistency of such slogans even from the purely democratic point of view. The Social-Democrats must explain to the proletariat the conditions for its victory, and not link up its policy in advance with the possibility of an incomplete victory, the possibility of a partial defeat—yet such are the conditions for the problematic establishment of a “Duma ministry”.
Let the liberals give democracy away for a few pennies and throw away the whole for the sake of banal and feeble, paltry dreams of doles. Social-Democracy must rouse among the people consciousness of integral democratic tasks, and imbue the proletariat with a clear understanding of revolutionary aims. We must enlighten the minds of the masses of workers and develop their readiness to struggle, not befog their minds by toning down contradictions, by toning down the aims of the struggle. (Applause.)