V. I.   Lenin

Apropos of Stolypin’s Declaration[1]

Draft Manifesto

Written: Written late in February 1907
Published: First published in 1931 in Lenin Miscellany XVI. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 193-195.
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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The deputies to the State Duma who are members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, announce the following to the people and propose that the Duma do likewise:

Through its prime minister, Mr. Stolypin, the government has announced to the people’s representatives that it intends to continue the policy pursued since the dissolution of the First Duma. The government does not wish to consider the will of the people’s representatives. It demands that the people’s representatives should reconcile themselves to this policy, help develop and perfect this government policy, and apply it more precisely and fully.

What does this government policy consist in?

It consists in protecting the interests of a handful of big landowners, courtiers and dignitaries, protecting their right to exploit and oppress the people. Neither land nor freedom! —this is what the government has announced to the people through its mouthpiece Stolypin.

The peasantry can expect nothing from the government but the defence of the landowners and a ruthlessly savage struggle against the peasants’ striving for enlightenment, liberty and improved conditions, for the transfer of the land to the peasants, and for liberation from irksome bondage, a life of hardship and gradual extinction from famine. From the government the peasants must expect the continuation of that same violence that has taken thousands and tens of thousands of the best people away from the peasantry, people who have been incarcerated in prisons, banished, or killed in the valiant struggle against the lawlessness   of government officials and oppression by the land owners. To bribe a tiny minority of village bloodsuckers and kulaks with petty hand-outs, to help them plunder the ruined countryside of whatever is left, as a reward for their aid to the autocratic government—such is the policy Stolypin and his ministry intend to pursue.

The workers can expect nothing of this government but violence and oppression. As before, the workers will have their hands bound in their struggle to improve their condition. As before, the workers’ unions will be banned; as before, workers’ newspapers will be persecuted. As before, the big manufacturers will obtain help and support from the government in every step they take to keep the workers down. The workers must not expect aid from the government in the dire want caused by unemployment, but must expect that want to grow and become more acute. Government help to the working class consists in laws drawn up at conferences of manufacturers and police officials. The workers of Russia long ago discovered the true value of this governmental “solicitude” for the working class.

The soldiers and sailors who spilled their blood in the war with Japan, a war undertaken by the government in the predatory interests of a handful of courtiers, the soldiers and sailors who spilled their blood at home in the struggle to make life easier, to rid themselves of the penal servitude of barrack life that the soldier might feel himself a human being, not a beast—the soldiers and sailors can expect nothing of the government but a continuation of the former violence and oppression and the same rough treatment, and a crust of stale bread as a reward for pacifying and subduing their brothers, the workers and peasants who are fighting for their freedom, fighting for land for the peasants.

The government announcement has shown clearly that the government wants war, not peace, with the people. There is one thing this announcement does not say and which must be said to the people by those deputies they sent to the Duma and who remain faithful to the people’s interests— the government does not say that its announcement signifies an irrevocable and inevitable decision to dissolve the Second Duma without even giving it an opportunity to   express the will of the people, to express the needs of the peasants, workers and soldiers, of all working people, and to express anything the people included in the mandates they gave the deputies when they sent them to the Duma.

The Social-Democratic Labour Party has always told the people that the Duma is powerless to give them freedom and land. Those deputies to the Duma who defend the interests of the working class and the peasantry are prepared to devote all their efforts to further those interests, to help the people by announcing the truth in the Duma, by explaining to the many millions of people scattered throughout Russia how harmful is the anti-popular policy pursued by the government, what evil plans against the people the government is elaborating, and which laws and measures it refuses to grant the people.

But Duma deputies and an entire Duma capable of helping the people are meaningless without the people. If Russia has obtained even tiny liberties for a short period, if Russia has been granted popular representation even if only for a brief period, this is only because it has been won by the struggle of the. people, the selfless struggle for liberty by the working class, the peasantry, the soldiers and the sailors.

The government has once again declared war on the people. It has taken a road leading to the dissolution of the Second Duma, to the annulment of the present franchise, to the reversion to the old order of the old Russian autocracy.

The deputies of the working class proclaim this to the entire people.


[1] Apropos of Stolypin’s Declaration” was the draft of a manifesto by the Social-Democratic group in the Second State Duma, in reply to the government declaration made by P. A. Stolypin, President of the Council of Ministers, on March 6 (19), 1907.

The Social-Democratic group decided to reply at its tenth session to the statement of the government. The following announcement of this was made in the Bolshevik newspaper Novy Luch, No. 7, on February 27, 1907: “At a meeting held on February 26, the question of the action to be taken by the Social-Democratic group on Stolypin’s declaration was discussed. After Stolypin’s declaration it was decided to take separate action, its form not being decided in advance. In the event of the group’s proposal not being accepted, it was decided to support the proposals of revolutionary and oppositional parties”.

Tue draft manifesto, drawn up by Lenin, came up for a preliminary discussion at a meeting of the Social-Democratic Duma group on February 28 (March 13), 1907, and was rejected by the Mensheviks, who were in the majority. In reply to the statement read in the Duma by Stolypin, I. G. Tsereteli, leader of the Social— Democratic Duma group, read the declaration adopted by the Menshevik majority of the group. This declaration was couched in semi-liberal tones, and was a step backward even in comparison with the statement made by the Social-Democratic group in the First Duma. Nothing at all was said of the socialist aims of the proletariat, nor was the demand for a constituent assembly included; the demand for the confiscation of all land was toned down to a formula accept able even to the feudal landowners—“solution of the land question”.

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