V. I.   Lenin

Banality Triumphant, or S.R.’s Ape the Cadets

Written: Written on April 3 (16), 1907
Published: Published on April 4, 1907, in Nashe Ekho, No. 9. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 341-344.
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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Yesterday we said that the Narodniks seemed to have come to their senses after the Duma had been in existence for a month and had begun—I would not say to “understand”, but at least to sense, the ignominy of the notorious Cadet slogan, “Save the Duma!” We showed in that article that the Cadet slogan is no accident but the expression of a policy determined by the profound class interests of the bourgeoisie and the landlords.[1]

Today the leading Cadet newspaper Rech (April 3) devotes its editorial to that problem. “The sharp protests made during the past few days by the Left newspapers against the tactics of ’saving the Duma’ are a rather alarming symptom,” says the Cadet leading article.

That is how matters stand. We are glad the Cadets have also noticed that the Narodniks repent the “saving of the Duma”. That means that the observations we made yesterday were not wrong, that there really is a movement among the petty bourgeoisie from the liberal landlords towards the working class. Good luck to them!

The “save the Duma” tactics are praised by the Cadet Rech in terms that deserve to be preserved in perpetuity as a gem of banality. Just listen to this: “If the Duma lives on, is it not the consciously produced fruit of your [the opposition’s] efforts? It is the first tangible result of the intervention of your will in events. This absence of facts is in   itself a fact of tremendous importance; it is your implementation of a plan you have prepared and put into force.”

It is a pity Shchedrin did not live until the. “great” Russian revolution. He would no doubt have added a fresh chapter to The Golovlyov Family in which he would have depicted Judas Golovlyov comforting the flogged, humiliated, hungry and enslaved muzhik in the following words: “You expect improvement? You are, disappointed at the lack of change in a way of life based on hunger, the birch, the knout, and shooting down of the people? You complain of the ’absence of facts’? You ingrate! Is not the absence of facts in itself a fact of the utmost importance? Is it not the conscious result of the intervention of your will that the Lidvals still rule as before, that the muzhiks submit calmly to being flogged, instead of harbouring harmful dreams of the ’poetry of struggle’?”

It is hard to hate the Black Hundreds; feelings have died in the same way as they die, it is said, in war-time after a long series of battles, after the long experience of shooting at people and spending a long time among bursting shells and whistling bullets. War is war—and an open, universal and customary war is going on against the Black Hundreds.

This Judas Golovlyov of a Cadet, however, is capable of inspiring the most burning feeling of hatred and contempt. The “liberal” landlord and bourgeois advocate is listened to; even the peasants listen to him. He really does throw dust in the eyes of the people and stupefy them!...

You cannot fight against the Krushevans with words, with the pen. You have to fight against them in another way. To fight against counter-revolution with the pen, with words, would mean, first and foremost, to expose those disgusting hypocrites who, in the name of “people’s freedom”, in the name of’ “democracy”, laud political stagnation, the silence of the people, the humiliation of the citizen turned philistine, and “the absence of facts”. You must fight against those liberal landlords and bourgeois advocates, who are fully satisfied that the people are silent and they themselves are able, fearlessly and with impunity, to play at “statesmen” and to apply the balm of appeasement to those who “tactlessly” express indignation at the rule of counter-revolution.

Can one possibly fail to reply in the most scathing terms to speeches such as the following?

"The day when debates in the Taurida Palace will seem as much an inevitable item of the day’s proceedings as lunch in the afternoon and theatre in the evening, when the day’s programme will not interest all collectively, but will have special interest for different groups [!!], when debates on general policy will become an exception and exercises in abstract rhetoric will actually he impossible on account of the absence of an audience—that day may he welcomed as the day of the final triumph of representative rule in Russia.”

There’s a Judas Golovlyov for you! The day when those who have been flogged lose consciousness and are silent instead of engaging in “debates”, when the landlords will be as certain of their old power (strengthened by “liberal” reforms) as the liberal Judases are of their lunch in the afternoon and their theatre in the evening, that day will be the day of the final triumph of “people’s freedom”. The day when reaction is finally triumphant will be the day of the final triumph of the constitution....

That is the way it was with all betrayals by the bourgeoisie in Europe. That is the way it will be ... but will it be like that in Russia, gentlemen?

The Judases try to clear themselves by showing that even among the parties of the Left there have been, and still are, supporters of “salvation”. Fortunately, this time it is not the Social-Democrat who is among those misled by the Judases, but the Socialist-Revolutionary. The Cadets quote passages from the Tammerfors speech of some Socialist-Revolutionary, who called for “collaboration” with the Cadets, and disputed the timeliness or need to fight against them.

We do not know of that speech, or whether Rech is quoting accurately.

But we do know the resolution of the last congress of Socialist-Revolutionaries not some individual speech—and that resolution really does express the stultification of the petty bourgeois who has been stupefied by the liberal Judas.

This resolution was printed in the official organ of the Socialist- Revolutionaries[3] (issue No. 6, March 8, 1907), and it turns out that the old passages from it, those dating back to February, are correctly quoted by the newspapers.   There it actually says in black and white: “The Congress [of the S.R.’s] is of the opinion that strict party alignments within the Duma, with each group acting on its own in isolated fashion, and bitter strife among the groups, might completely paralyse the activity of the opposition majority, and thus discredit, in the minds of the working classes, the very idea of popular representation”. At that time (February 22) Rech praised that banality. At that time, too (February 23), we threw some light on it, and showed the petty-bourgeois origin and treacherous liberal significance of such a congress resolution.[2]

Whether some Socialist-Revolutionary leader will be killed politically by the Judas kiss is of no interest to us. But the Cadet resolution of the S.R. congress must be a thousand times exposed to the workers so as to warn wavering Social-Democrats and to break any connection between the proletariat and the supposedly revolutionary S.R.’s.


[1] See pp. 337-40 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] See pp. 165-69 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] The official organ of the Socialist-Revolutionaries was Partiiniye Izvestia (Party News) published from October 1900 to May 1907.

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