V. I.   Lenin

An Anaemic Duma or An Anaemic Petty Bourgeoisie

Written: Written on April 2 (15), 1907
Published: Published on April 3, 1907, in Nashe Ekho, No. 8. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 337-340.
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

A gradual increase is taking place in the number of daily periodicals with a stand more Left than that of the Cadets. The voice of the Left section of the Duma, the section between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats, is becoming more audible.

The latest addition is the daily press of the Popular Socialists. Their newspaper, Obshchestvennoye Dyelo (Sun day, April 1) immediately adopted a highly characteristic and noteworthy tone of plaint, regret and, repentance.

What do they complain of? They complain that the Duma is “anaemic” (i.e., in plain Russian, bloodless and spineless).

What do they regret? The lengthy supremacy of the slogan “Save the Duma”.

What do they repent of? Of their support for Cadet tactics.

It is true that this repentance is far from being real, Sincere and full—it is not, as the saying goes, fully confessed and half redressed. The repentance of the Popular Socialists is so insincere that in their first, or repentance, issue they reply to us with a malicious statement to the effect that we, the Bolshevik Social-Democrats, “solve differences by calling our opponent ignorant, pitiful”, etc., and that we are “inaccurate in our facts” in ascribing “entry on to the path of conciliation” to our opponent.

We should not, of course, have taken up our readers’ time with this question of the sincerity of the Narodnik repentance had it not become very intimately and directly connected with questions that have a decisive importance in   assessing the Second Duma as a whole—more than that, in assessing the entire Russian revolution.

The Narodniks are three groups in the Duma united on a number of basic questions and conducting a more or less united common policy. These groups in some way or another reflect the interests and views of a vast mass of the Russian people.

The majority of this category of deputies are peasants, and it can scarcely be disputed that the peasant masses have most precisely expressed their needs (and their prejudices) through this category of Duma deputies, and through no other. It follows, therefore, that the policy of the Narodniks in the Duma is connected with the question of the policy of the peasant masses, without whose participation there can be no talk of victory for the emancipation movement.

The Popular Socialists are stating an obvious and disgraceful falsehood to the effect that the Social-Democrats solve differences by vilification or by falsely ascribing conciliation to the Trudoviks (i.e., the Narodniks). This is untrue, gentlemen, because the Social-Democrats, from the very outset of the Second Duma’s activities, and quite independently of the Narodniks and the struggle against them, had already produced that assessment of the notorious slogan “Save the Duma” towards which you are now hobbling.

“’Save the Duma!’" wrote our colleague N. R.,[1] on February 21, “is the cry that is constantly escaping the lips of the bourgeois electors and is being repeated in the bourgeois press, and not only the Cadet press but also such ’Left’ periodicals as Tovarishch.... The secret of the Duma’s salvation has long been revealed by the Black-Hundred and Octobrist press and by the government. The Duma can easily be saved if it is ’able to function’ and is ’obedient to the law’, i.e., if it slavishly prostrates itself to the government, and does not venture anything more than timid requests and degrading petitions. The Duma can easily be saved if it betrays the cause of national emancipation, and sacrifices that cause to the Black-Hundred gang. The Duma, therefore, can only be saved if power remains in the old hands. That must be clear to everybody; that must not be forgotten. But can the Duma possibly be saved when treachery is the price to be paid? Social-Democracy answers that question clearly and loudly: Never! The proletariat and the peasantry have no use for a treacherous Duma. Not without reason did the Moscow peasantry declare in their mandate to their deputy: ’Let them dissolve you, but do not betray the will of the people’. If the Duma is to be mainly concerned with avoiding irritation of the government, it will lose the confidence of   the people and will not fulfil the tasks it has been charged with—to assist as far as possible in organising the masses of the people for victory over reaction and for the triumph of the emancipation movement.... Only the strong are feared. And respect too is only for the strong. Hysterical cries of ’Save the Duma’ are unworthy of a free people and its, elected representatives.”

This was written the day after the Second Duma was opened. And, it would seem, it is written clearly enough.

The Narodniks who, in their literature, in their general politics and in the Duma, represent the interests of various strata of the petty bourgeoisie, petty proprietors (in the towns and, especially, in the countryside — i.e., the peasantry), have now begun to understand that the Social-Democrats were speaking the truth. Events have proved the correctness of our policy.

But in order “not to come too late”, in order not to become a politician who is wise after the event, learning from events is not enough. You must understand the course taken by events, understand the basic relations between classes, which determine the policies of the various parties and of the entire Duma.

“Save the Duma” is a Cadet slogan that gives expression to Cadet policy. What is it, in essence? It means an agreement with the reactionaries against the people’s demands. How is this agreement expressed? By submitting to those institutions and those limits of activity that are fixed by the reactionaries. By turning the demands of liberty and the demands of the people into miserable, pitiful, false “reforms” that are kept within those limits. Why do the Social-Democrats call this liberal policy treacherous? Because the defeat of all unsuccessful bourgeois revolutions has always been possible only because the liberals have come to an agreement with the reactionaries, i.e., because of their actually going over from people’s freedom to reaction. Liberal reformism during the revolution is a betrayal of people’s freedom. It is brought about not by accident, but by the class interests of the bourgeoisie and part of the landlords, who fear the people, especially the working class.

The slogan “Save the Duma” is of importance because it is a clear expression of the general line of this treacherous policy. Individual manifestations. of it are: the tactics of   silence in response to the declaration, the curtailment of the tasks set the food and unemployment commissions, the curtailment of speeches in the Duma, the replacement of the Duma by commissions, the relegation of the budget to a commission, etc.

As representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, the Narodniks have supported, and are still supporting, this Cadet policy. The Narodniks voted for Golovin instead of abstaining from voting. The Narodniks participated in the pitiful “tactics of silence”, and so did both the Popular Socialists and the Socialist-Revolutionaries. Only under the repeated pressure of the Social-Democrats did the Narodniks begin to draw away from the Constitutional-Democrats. But even now the Trudoviks, the Popular Socialists and the Socialist-Revolutionaries are wavering in all their policies, for they do not understand the task of the struggle against the Cadets and of their exposure from the Duma platform.

This wavering is due to the anaemic state of the petty bourgeoisie.

This “anaemia” of the petty bourgeoisie, partially due to its weariness from the revolution and partially to its wavering and unstable (social) character, is the chief cause of the “anaemic state of the Duma”. And so we say to the Narodniks—it’s no use blaming the mirror if your looks are no good.

Don’t be anaemic in your politics, break off your connections with the Cadets; stick determinedly to the proletariat; leave it to the liberals to save the Duma, and you yourselves openly, boldly and firmly save the interests and traditions of the emancipation movement—then your repentance will indeed mean “half redressing”!


[1] N. R.—N. A. Rozhkov, historian, a Social-Democrat who sided with the Bolsheviks in 1907.

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