V. I.   Lenin

The Results of the Elections in the Worker Curia in St. Petersburg

Published: Proletary, No. 13, February 11, 1907. Published according to the Proletary text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 86-92.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Although the gathering of exact data on the elections in the worker curia is making slow progress (the Bolsheviks have issued and circulated a printed questionnaire), the general character of the elections has nevertheless been made clear.

The Socialist-Revolutionaries have no doubt gained more than we expected. This is admitted even by the Mensheviks (Nash Mir,[2] No. 1). In the gubernia worker curia they secured the election of 4 electors out of 10. In the city worker curia they were defeated by the Social-Democrats, who secured the election of all 14 electors, but the Socialist-Revolutionary candidates polled a high vote (110-135 for the Socialist-Revolutionaries, 145-159 for the Social-Democrats, out of a total of 269 votes).

To proceed. Nobody denies that the Socialist-Revolutionaries defeated us in the biggest factories.

The Mensheviks do deny the following fact, the most vital for an understanding of the causes of our failures, namely, that the Socialist-Revolutionaries defeated mainly Mensheviks.

In a special article published in No. 1 of Nash Mir, on the elections in the worker curia, they say nothing about this, but while hypocritically complaining that the Social-Democrats had been weakened by factional strife, they slurred over the fact that it was the Mensheviks who have brought this factional struggle to the point of a split, and their tactics to a degree of “Cadetism” that antagonised the advanced workers.

But even the data so far collected go more and more to confirm our original conclusion (in Proletary, No. 12), namely, that it was Mensheviks[1] who were defeated by Socialist-Revolutionaries.

For the Neva District, this is borne out by the figures for the various factories, published in Proletary, No. 12. The bald statement to the contrary in Nash Mir, No. 1, is simply ridiculous.

For the Moscow District, it is confirmed by the report in the present issue.[3]

For the Vyborg District, the Mensheviks themselves (Nash Mir, No. 1) give the following figures: for the urban section of the district (Mensheviks) 17 Social-Democrats, 12 Socialist-Revolutionaries, and 2 unspecified. For the gubernia section of the district, where only Bolsheviks were working—7 Social-Democrats and not a single Socialist-Revolutionary.

Though not conclusive proof, these figures on the whole fully bear out our contention that it was the Mensheviks who were defeated by the Socialist-Revolutionaries. Nash Mir’s attempt to argue that the Socialist-Revolutionaries were completely inactive in the gubernia section of the Vyborg District, and that “consequently there was no competition”, is obviously unsound. In the first place, the question arises—why were the Socialist-Revolutionaries inactive in this particular suburb of St. Petersburg, although they were active in others? Was it not due to the fact that the “competition” of the Socialist-Revolutionaries had been eliminated beforehand by all our preliminary work? Secondly, the Mensheviks do not tell us exactly who the candidates were. Nor do they give us the figures for each factory. Thirdly, we know from the newspapers that it was at the election meetings in this very Vyborg District that the Socialist-Revolutionaries castigated the Mensheviks for their “Cadetism”.

Thus, Rech for January 24 reports a meeting held on January 21 in the Nobel Hall (No. 11 Neustadt St.). According to Rech, Gurvich, a Social-Democrat, spoke and reproached the extreme Left parties for boycotting the Duma   (Rech uses italics to describe this service rendered the Cadets at a Left meeting!). Gurvich accused the Narodniks of “petty haggling” that killed the bloc with the Cadets. Replying to Gurvich, Narodnik Bickermann said that “the previous speaker’s statement about petty haggling is slander”. Narodnik Smirnov argued that the Menshevik Gurvich “in no way differs from a Cadet”. Smirnov referred to the fact that Gurvich had been publicly “praised” by the Cadet Gredeskul.

Such is the Rech report. It shows that it was for the Mensheviks’ attitude to the Cadets that they were castigated by the Socialist-Revolutionaries.

In the Neva, Moscow and Vyborg districts, the Socialist-Revolutionaries’ success was particularly striking. It is these districts that help us to understand the cause of that success: the opportunist Social-Democrats are discrediting Social-Democracy in the eyes of the advanced proletariat.

But if the action of the Right Social-Democrats cost us four places out of ten in the gubernia worker curia, we made up for it in the city worker curia.

As will be seen from what follows, we made up for it by the fact that we displayed the tactics of revolutionary, not opportunist, Social-Democracy for all delegates to see.

The total number of workers’ delegates for the city was 272. Of these, 147, i.e., more than half, were Social-Democrats or their sympathisers. The rest were partly definite Socialist-Revolutionaries (54), partly indefinite (55), non-party (6), one Right and 9 Trudoviks, the “Lefts” (two of them Cadets), and so on.

The St. Petersburg Committee carried on vigorous activity among the delegates. The question discussed was one of universal interest, the question of tactics in the St. Petersburg elections, with or against the Cadets? Representatives of the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. explained to the delegates the position of revolutionary Social-Democracy, while the Mensheviks spoke in defence of their own tactics.

On January 28, the decisive meeting of the delegates of all parties was held. Some 200 to 250 people were present. A resolution was carried, with only 10 or 12 voting against,   fully endorsing the tactics of the Bolsheviks, demanding support for the Left bloc, and definitely opposing the Mensheviks and their “covert” support of the Cadets.

Here is the text of the resolution:


“(1) the success of the Left election lists, which have already been put forward by the Social-Democrats, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Trudoviks and Popular Socialists in opposition to the Black-Hundred and Cadet lists in the urban curia is of extreme political importance;

“(2) such success is possible only if all the Left parties unanimously support the Left lists;

“this meeting of workers’ delegates from various factories calls on all Left parties to support the joint Left lists and under no circumstances to put up separate lists, or support the Cadets, even covertly, in any district of St. Petersburg.

“In conformity with the opinion of the masses, this meeting of delegates expresses the wish that our Menshevik Social-Democratic comrades should enter into agreement with the Lefts and contribute to the success of the Left lists in the St. Petersburg elections.”

Thus, in the city of St. Petersburg, which the Mensheviks wanted to separate from the gubernia, representatives of the entire proletariat have condemned Menshevik tactics!

It was clear at the Social-Democratic conference that the majority of the St. Petersburg workers sympathised with Bolshevik tactics and this has now been proved conclusively by the delegates’ decision.

On January 28, representatives of the masses of the workers called for the last time on the Mensheviks to abandon their tactics of “covertly” supporting the Cadets, their blackleg tactics against the Left bloc.

But even after that, the Mensheviks refused to submit to the will of the proletariat. On February 1, Rech published excerpts from their manifesto, in which they put spokes in the wheel of the Left bloc. On January 29, late at night, the non-party Progressists of the Kolomna District tore up their written agreement with the Mensheviks, after all the representatives of the Left bloc had explained to the Progressists that the Menshevik terms (“a free hand” for the electors, in other words, freedom to desert to the Cadets!) were untenable.

On January 30 a meeting was held of workers’ delegates belonging to the R.S.D.L.P. or sympathising with it. The   majority of these delegates, ninety-eight persons, were present. Comrade V., representative of the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P., proposed that they examine the question of future Social-Democratic electors submitting to the instructions of the St. Petersburg Committee in electing members of the State Duma. He pointed out that under normal circumstances this question would not have given rise to any doubts or differences, since the instructions of the St. Petersburg Committee are, of course, binding on all members of the St. Petersburg organisation. But at present a considerable section of the organisation, the majority of the Mensheviks, has broken away and announced that the Menshevik electors reserve freedom of action for themselves. The representative of the St. Peters burg Committee pointed out that if the workers’ electors were to follow this recommendation of the unofficial, seceding section of the organisation, it would mean that the split already begun by the Mensheviks would be made final and would be a contravention of the decision adopted at the general meeting of delegates by an overwhelming majority to support the Left bloc in the election campaign. Comrades M. and A., Menshevik members of the St. Petersburg Committee, objected to this, and insisted that the workers’ electors must only reckon with the opinions of the delegates. By an overwhelming majority the following resolution, proposed on behalf of the St. Petersburg Committee, was passed: “This meeting considers that submission to the instructions of the St. Petersburg Committee is obligatory for electors during the elections.”

The Mensheviks vigorously opposed this resolution. The most prominent and responsible Mensheviks did not hesitate to oppose the St. Petersburg Committee even at a moment like this—on the eve of the elections. They moved an “amendment” to substitute the words “St. Petersburg Organisation” for St. Petersburg Committee.

But the workers immediately saw through the Menshevik tactics, intended to split the Party in the interests of the Cadets. They shouted to the Menshevik speakers: “Sit down!” The amendment, which was a covert justification of the split, was rejected by an overwhelming majority.

The meeting then proceeded with the nomination of R.S.D.L.P. candidates for electors. The St. Petersburg Committee submitted a list of 14 candidates, whom it recommended from a list of 21 nominated by the district meetings of delegates. The motion to accept this list as a basis for discussion, was carried by an overwhelming majority, despite objections from the Mensheviks, who said this was “governmental pressure”. Comrade V., representative of the St. Petersburg Committee, explained that this was not “governmental pressure”, that the St. Petersburg Committee has authority only to the extent that it enjoys the confidence of the organised Social-Democratic proletariat of St. Petersburg, and that, in submitting the list of recommendations, it was only doing its duty as the organisation’s guiding body. All the nominees were discussed, and one of the candidates, on the proposal of the representative of the St. Petersburg Committee, was with drawn and replaced by another. Then they were put to the vote, which resulted in the entire list proposed by the St. Petersburg Committee being approved by a considerable majority.

The St. Petersburg Committee’s list was published in all newspapers on the eve of the elections.

The elections of February 1 resulted in a victory for the united Social-Democrats. The St. Petersburg Committee’s list was elected in toto. All fourteen electors are Social- Democrats!

Of these fourteen—eight are Bolsheviks, four are Mensheviks (strictly speaking, one is a syndicalist, not a Menshevik), and two are non-factional Social-Democrats who are in favour of the Left bloc.

In the city worker curia, the Bolsheviks made up for the losses sustained by the Social-Democrats in the gubernia worker curia.

Let Rech now rave to its heart’s content (see the article in the issue of February 3), and say that the Bolsheviks did not give the Socialist-Revolutionaries even a proportionate minority.

We never promised the Socialist-Revolutionaries proportional representation—and no one has shown what the proportion is, for no figures on the voting are available.   We are the first to have begun collecting these figures.

We have left ourselves a free hand to fight all the other parties in the worker curia.

Thanks to action by the revolutionary Social-Democrats, out of the total number of workers’ electors for St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg Gubernia, only 4 are Socialist-Revolutionaries and 20 are Social-Democrats.

At the next elections we shall win all the places for Social-Democracy.


[1] See p. 65 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] Nash Mir (Our World)—a Menshevik weekly journal published in St. Petersburg in January and February 1907. P. 86

[3] The report in the present issue was on the elections to the Second Duma in the Moscow District of St. Petersburg published in Proletary, No. 13. The report described the elections at the   Rechkin Factory where the workers elected a Socialist-Revolutionary only because they did not want a Menshevik.

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