V. I.   Lenin

How to Vote in the St. Petersburg Elections (February 4)

Who Benefits from the Fables About the Black-Hundred Danger?

Published: Zreniye, No. 2, February 4, 1907. Signed: N. Lenin. Published according to the Zreniye text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 75-80.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Long ago, revolutionary Social-Democrats pointed out that the fables about the Black-Hundred danger have been deliberately invented and circulated by the Cadets to stave off the danger from the Left.

No attention was paid to the Social-Democrats. The liberal press has been howling in chorus about the Black-Hundred danger. The petty-bourgeois radicals, the Narodniks,[4] naïvely copied the liberals. The opportunist Social-Democrats also fell into line with the liberals, and in some cases (e.g., in St. Petersburg) stooped to downright blacklegging against the proletariat.

But what do the elections show?

Everyone now sees that there has been a leftward swing in the mood of the voters. The Black Hundreds have suffered a much heavier defeat at the elections than they did last year. The revolutionary Social-Democrats have proved to be right. The Black-Hundred danger in the elections is a fable circulated by the Cadets., who are bargaining with Stolypin behind the backs of the people. It is well known that in St. Petersburg Mr. Vodovozov, who last year voted for the Cadets, has now renounced them, and has publicly exposed Milyukov’s visit to Stolypin. Milyukov has had to admit the fact. But he is still concealing from the people the terms on which Stolypin is prepared to legalise the Cadets!’

In their newspapers the Cadets are now straining every nerve to convince Stolypin of their moderation, their modesty, their loyalty, their independence of the “Lefts” and their readiness to fight them.

An advantageous and convenient policy, is it not? To curry favour with Stolypin and his friends, i.e., the Black Hundreds, by renouncing the Lefts, by fighting the Lefts in the press, at meetings, in the elections. And to curry favour with the Lefts, or rather, with simpletons and black-legs among the Lefts, by vociferating about the Black-Hundred danger, with the call: Vote for the Cadets so as not to split the vote!

That is exactly the policy the Cadets have pursued in. Moscow. On the very day of the elections, Mr. Kokoshkin, former member of the Duma and one of the most prominent Cadets, wrote in Russkiye Vedomosti[5]:

“It is obvious to everyone that the Left bloc cannot win the votes of those non-party elements who are vacillating between the Octobrists and the Cadets; it cannot capture a single vote from the Union of October Seventeenth. But it can capture votes from the people’s freedom party, and thereby contribute to the triumph of reaction, and this will be the only practical result of its activities, if successful.”

Mr. Kokoshkin wrote that on the morning of election day. And the elections showed that Mr. Kokoshkin was telling a foul lie. The result of the Left bloc’s activities showed that it was impossible for the Rights to have achieved a triumph in Moscow, no matter how many votes we captured from the Cadets!

The Moscow elections have proved that the fable about the Black-Hundred danger is a Cadet lie, which can hence forth be repeated only by deliberate blacklegs among the Lefts.

Take the votes, district by district. We give them in full in this issue in our article “Preliminary Returns of the Moscow Elections”. These figures show that in 14 districts out of 16[1] the votes polled by the Octobrists were less than half the combined Cadet and Left vote. Consequently, in 14 districts the Lefts could not, by their independent action, “contribute to the triumph of reaction”.

Mr. Kokoshkin lied, slandered the Left bloc, when he called it an abettor of reaction!

Mr. Kokoshkin tried to scare the voters with his false hood about the Black-Hundred danger, in order to deter them from voting for the Left bloc.

Mr. Kokoshkin, like the St. Petersburg Cadets, is afraid to put the real issue even before voters with property qualification; he is afraid to ask even them whether, on principle, the voters sympathise with a party that parleys with Stolypin, or with the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks. The Kokoshkins, like the St. Petersburg Cadets, are not speculating on the intelligence of the voters, but on the terror of the petty bourgeois, who is hypnotised by the wailing of the servile liberal press about the Black-Hundred danger.

And the Moscow elections were indeed elections by terrified petty bourgeois. Here is confirmation of this from a source that surely no one will suspect of sympathy with the “Bolsheviks”.

Birzheviye Vedomosti[6] of January 29 published a report from its special correspondent on how “Moscow Is Electing Electors”. This is what this correspondent writes:

“After leaving the line, the voters withdraw a good distance away and compare notes.

“‘Well, I suppose you voted for Gringmut,’ a contractor asks one of his foremen.

“‘Oh,no, Sergei Petrovich, we are for the Cadets,’ answers the foreman, a tubby little fellow.

“‘Whynot for the Left bloc?’ inquires the contractor.

”‘Toorisky, that would split the vote,’ answers the foreman.”

So that is why the mass of ordinary townspeople voted for the Cadets in Moscow! The ordinary townsman voted against the Lefts not because he felt any antipathy against them, but because it was “too risky, that would split the vote,” i.e., because he believed the Cadet liars, who took advantage of their monopoly of the liberal daily press to fool the ordinary townsman.

The elections of January 28 in Moscow show that four election lists could not split the vote in such a way as to create the danger of a Black-Hundred victory!

In Moscow the Cadets hoodwinked the frightened towns people. The St. Petersburg voters should know of this;   they must not let themselves be caught a second time by the Cadets, who are bargaining with Stolypin!

We also draw the attention of our readers to a comparison of the figures (for 9 districts of Moscow—unfortunately fuller information is unavailable) for 1906 and 1907. It is common knowledge that all Cadet henchmen and blacklegs among the Lefts are clamouring about the Senate interpretations as proof that the 1906 figures are nothing to go by, that we must expect something worse in the 1907 elections, and that there is now a Black-Hundred danger.

But what has Moscow proved? In 1906, in 9 districts, 13,220 votes were cast for the Cadets, 5,669 for the Rights (Octobrists) plus 690 (for the monarchists), in all 6,359 (perhaps even somewhat more, for, as can be seen from the figures we quote, there are no returns for the monarchist vote in several of these 9 districts).

In 1907, in the same districts, 14,133 votes were cast against the Black Hundreds (11,451 for the Cadets and 2,682 for the Lefts), while 5,902 votes were cast for the Black Hundreds (4,412 for the Octobrists and 1,490 for the monarchists).

Thus, despite the Senate interpretations, the total vote in 1907 is even slightly higher than it was in 1906 (20,025 as compared with 19,579). The anti-Black-Hundred vote is higher than in 1906 (14,133 as compared with 13,220); the Black-Hundred vote is lower than in 1906 (5,902 as compared with 6,359).

The facts from Moscow prove that the 1906 figures can be taken for comparison, for the 1907 figures show an improvement.

And what do the St. Petersburg figures for 1906 show? They show that in 9 districts electing 114 electors, the highest Black-Hundred vote in 1906 was less than half of the lowest Cadet vote.[2]

Thus, a split in the anti-Black-Hundred vote between the Cadets and the Lefts cannot result in a victory for the Rights in St. Petersburg.

Even the elections of electors by urban voters in St. Petersburg Uyezd,[3] which took place on January 29, show that the Black-Hundred danger is a Cadet falsehood. Even among these voters, who had the greatest difficulty in obtaining voting forms and going to the polling-booth, the Black Hundreds got so few votes that they could not have won, no matter how the vote was split. The Cadets received at least 1,099 votes, the Social-Democrats 603, the Octobrists 652, and the Union of the Russian People[7] 20. The Rights could not have been elected, no matter how many votes we captured from the Cadets! We therefore declare most emphatically that those people in St. Petersburg who are now calling upon the electorate to vote for the Cadets, to refrain from splitting the vote because of the Black-Hundred danger, are deliberately lying and deceiving the voters. Those who are not participating in the elections in St. Petersburg, even in a single ward, because of the Black-Hundred danger, are deliberately lying and deceiving the voters to cover up their blacklegging against the Left bloc.

In St. Petersburg, as in Moscow, there is no Black-Hundred danger, but there is a Cadet danger. There is the danger that the ignorant and terrified petty bourgeois will vote for the Cadets, not out of any antipathy against the Left bloc, towards the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks, but out of fear of splitting the vote, a fear inspired by the lies of the Cadet press.

All those who want intelligent voting in St. Petersburg must combat this “danger”.

There is no Black-Hundred danger in St. Petersburg, there is only a Cadet danger. Therefore it will be unpardonable blacklegging against the Lefts to abstain from voting in those three districts (Vasilyevsky Ostrov, Rozhdestvensky and Liteiny) where (judging by the 1906 figures) a victory of the Black Hundreds is possible if the vote is split. These three districts elect 46 electors out of the total of 174 (160 for the urban, 14 for the worker curia). Consequently, these districts cannot affect the result of the elections. But they may greatly affect the victory of the Lefts or the   Cadets. Let us assume that the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks are successful in four districts: Spassky, Moscow, Petersburg and Vyborg (we have taken these districts at random). The Lefts will then have 74 electors (60 from the city and 14 from the workers). If the Cadets are successful in all the other districts, they will have 100 electors and get all their candidates into the Duma! If, however, the Black Hundreds are elected in the three districts mentioned above (46 electors), the Cadets will have only 54, and they will be obliged to combine with the Lefts and get two seats out of the six in the Duma.

That means that whoever abstains from voting in the three “Black-Hundred” districts of St. Petersburg is secretly helping the Cadets and is blacklegging against the Left bloc!

Citizens and voters! Give no credence to the deceivers who talk to you about the danger of splitting the vote in St. Petersburg. Give no credence to their false tales of a Black-Hundred danger in St. Petersburg.

There is no Black-Hundred danger in St. Petersburg. The Rights cannot win in St. Petersburg as a result of a division of the votes between Cadets and Lefts.

Do not vote out of fear of a “danger” invented by the Cadet liars (who run to Stolypin by the back door); vote as your conscience and your convictions guide you.

Will you vote for the liberal bourgeoisie, who want to saddle the peasants with ruinous land-compensation payments, betray the peasants into the hands of the liberal landlords, and are secretly bargaining with Stolypin and carrying on negotiations with the Black Hundreds?

Or will you vote for the Social-Democratic Labour Party, for the party of the proletariat supported by all Trudovik parties?

Citizens, vote for the Left bloc!


[1] There are 17 election wards in Moscow. Complete figures for the Pyatnitsky (17th) District are not yet available. Here the Cadets obtained at least 1,488 votes, the Octobrists, probably about 600, and the Left bloc, probably about 250.—Lenin

[2] The figures are given in full in Zreniye, No. 1. (See p. 49 of this volume—Ed.) We are reproducing them in this issue to make them known to all St. Petersburg voters.—Lenin

[3] See footnote to p. 18.—Ed.

[4] Narodism—a petty-bourgeois trend in the Russian revolutionary movement that grew up in the sixties and seventies of the nineteenth century and comprised mainly progressive intellectuals from the lower social-estates. With the objective of rousing the peasantry to struggle against absolutism, the revolutionary youth “went among the people”, to the village, gaining there, however, no support. The Narodniks held to the view that capitalism in Russia was a fortuitous phenomenon with no prospect of development, and that for this reason there would be no growth and development of a Russian proletariat. The Narodniks considered the peasantry to be the main revolutionary force and regarded the village commune as the embryo of socialism. The Narodniks proceeded from an erroneous view of the role of the class struggle in historical development, maintaining that history is made by heroes, by outstanding personalities, who are followed passively by the popular masses. p. 75

[5] Russkiye Vedomosti (Russian Recorder)—a daily newspaper expressing the views of the moderate liberal intelligentsia, and   published in Moscow from 1863. It was the organ of the Right Cadets from 1905 onwards. It was closed down after the October Revolution of 1917 in company with other counter-revolutionary newspapers.

[6] Birzheviye Vedomosti (Stock-Exchange Recorder)—a bourgeois daily newspaper published in St. Petersburg from 1880. The name of this paper became proverbial; it was used as a synonym for lack of principle and corruption of the bourgeois press. It was closed down at the end of October 1917.

[7] Union of the Russian People—an extremely reactionary, Black-Hundred organisation of monarchists, formed in October 1905 in St. Petersburg to struggle against the revolutionary movement. The Union was an alliance of reactionary landowners, big house owners, merchants, police officials, clergy, urban petty bourgeoisie, kulaks, declassed and criminal elements. It was headed by V. A. Bobrinsky, A. I. Dubrovin, P. A. Krushevan, N.Y. Markov the Second, V. M. Purishkevich, and others. Its organs were the newspapers Russkoye Znamya (Russian Banner), Obyedineniye (Unity) and Groza (The Storm). Branches of the Union were opened in many Russian cities.

The Union defended the immutability of tsarist autocracy, the retention of semi-feudal landlord farming, and the privileges of the nobility. Its programme watchword was the monarchist-nationalist slogan of the days of serfdom—“the orthodox faith, the autocracy, the nation”. Its chief method of struggle against the revolution was pogroms and assassinations. Acting with the connivance and help of the police, members of the Union openly beat up or assassinated revolutionary workers and representatives of the democratic intelligentsia, broke up and fired on meetings, organised anti-Jewish pogroms, and engaged in a fanatical persecution of all non-Russians.

After the dissolution of the Second Duma, the Union split into two organisations—the Chamber of the Archangel Michael, and the Union of the Russian People proper; the former, headed by Purishkevich, favoured using the Third Duma for counter revolutionary purposes; the latter, under Dubrovin, employed the tactics of open terror. The two Black-Hundred organisations were abolished at the time of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1917. After the October Socialist Revolution former members of these organisations played an active part in counter-revolutionary insurrections and conspiracies against Soviet power.

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