Written: February 9, 1907
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 119-126.
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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St. Petersburg, February 9, 1907.
The Cadets have won the St. Petersburg elections. They have secured the election of 151 electors in 11 districts. The Left bloc has won in one district only—the Vyborg District—and has secured the election of 9 electors out of 160. The outstanding features of the elections in St. Petersburg are: an increase in the percentage of those voting in nearly all districts, and the weakening of the Rights. The Cadets are at the top of the list, with 28,798 votes (counting the maximum numbers of votes cast for their candidates). The Left bloc takes second place, with 16,703 votes; the Octobrists come third, with 16,613 votes, the monarchists fourth with 5,270 votes.
This, when compared with Moscow, is a big step forward. One district has been won. The Lefts have advanced from third to second place in the list. In Moscow, the votes cast for the Left bloc amounted to 13 per cent. The St. Petersburg figure was nearly twice as high, i.e., 25 per cent.
This, of course, was partly due to somewhat more extensive agitation, and to the political influence of the Duma general elections, which were far more favourable to the Left than had been expected. In Moscow not a single daily newspaper published lists of the Left bloc electors. In St. Petersburg several papers did so: it is said that Tovarishch has even increased its circulation very considerably since it “swung to the Left”. In Moscow there were no information bureaus to help Left voters to fill in their ballot papers. In St. Petersburg there were. In Moscow most of the petty-bourgeois townspeople believed the Cadet fable about the Black-Hundred danger. In St. Petersburg there were already unmistakable signs that this credulity of the petty bourgeoisie and the opportunists had been shaken.
Here are the returns for each ward, taking in each case the maximum number of votes for the candidates on the respective election lists (figures taken from Rech).
|Wards in the City
of St. Petersburg
|Highest vote for:||Difference
votes we had
to gain from
Cadets to win
|Vasilyevsky Ostrov||2,313||1,949||2,102||418||— 364||183|
|Total||28,798||16,703||16,613||5,270||Total for five not hopeless wards, 1,573|
These returns enable us to draw a number of interesting conclusions.
First of all, about the “Black-Hundred danger”. The elections have proved that it was non-existent. Our repeated declarations and warnings, reiterated by all Bolshevik publications, including Ternii Truda and Zreniye, have been fully confirmed.
The Black Hundreds could not have won in St. Peters burg, no matter how the votes had split between the Cadets and the Lefts!
Moreover, even if the Octobrists and the monarchists ???I joined forces (an impossibility, especially in St. Petersburg, where the German Octobrists in the Vasilyevsky Ostrov District were on the point of quarrelling even with the Union of October Seventeenth), the Black Hundreds could not have won in St. Petersburg! This will be obvious to anyone who takes the trouble to make a very simple calculation from the figures given above. The total Cadet and Left vote (45,500) is more than twice the total Octobrist and monarchist vote (22,000). No conceivable distribution of votes among these four election lists, no “measures” taken by the Rights, could have created a Black-Hundred danger.
The petty bourgeoisie—the Narodniks and the opportunist Social-Democrats—who caught up the Cadets’ outcry about the Black-Hundred danger, were deceiving the people. We said so before the elections. The elections have proved that we were right.
The spinelessness and political short-sightedness, characteristic of the petty-bourgeois intellectuals and philistines have revealed themselves in practice in St. Petersburg. Though not nearly to the same extent as in Moscow, the St. Petersburg elections were, nevertheless, elections by philistines, scared and deceived by the Cadets. All the election literature published in St. Petersburg, from Rech to Tovarishch, which latter faint-heartedly defended the Left bloc (apologising for its Left sympathies?), teems with evidence that the Cadets and their henchmen scared the man in the street with a phantom of their own invention— the possibility of a Black-Hundred danger arising out of the voting.
The Cadets strove to ward off the danger threatening them from the Left, with an outcry about the Black-Hundred danger, while they themselves waited on Stolypin, and promised that they would be reasonable, become more loyal, and keep away from the Lefts. Stolypin himself has admitted, according to today’s Tovarishch (February 9), that he knows something about this Cadet swing to the Right!
Further, the St. Petersburg election results enable us to answer the question—what have we gained from these elections? Has our straightforward anti-Cadet propaganda succeeded in rousing new sections of hitherto indifferent voters and drawing them into political life? To what ex tent have we alienated the petty bourgeoisie from the liberals in whose wake they followed, and won them over to the proletariat?
To enable us to judge, let us first of all compare the Cadet and the Left votes (the maximum, as before) in 1906 and in 1907.
|Wards in the City of St. Petersburg||1906||1907||Difference
|Vasilyevsky Ostrov||3,777||2,313||1 ,949||4.262||+ 485|
These figures very clearly reveal the proportion of votes cast in 1906 and 1907 for the opposition and for the revolution. Of the seventeen thousand votes we polled (in round figures), we captured about twelve thousand from the Cadets and attracted live thousand from the hitherto indifferent (partly boycotting) masses.
What strikes one at once is the difference between the “hopeless” districts, i.e., those where, apparently, we could not have won in 1907, whatever effort we had made, and the districts that were not hopeless. The principle “hope less” districts, for instance, were the Admiralty and the Liteiny. Here, the preponderance of Cadet votes over ours is enormous. What is it due to?
The reason is obvious. The population of the first district consists of government officials; that of the second consists of the big bourgeoisie (this was pointed out before the elections by Ternii Truda). The Social-Democrats, supported by the Trudoviks, could not have won where there is no trade and industrial proletariat, where there is a preponderance of civil servants. Even the number of voters who went to the polls in these districts declined—no interest was displayed! In these districts the only thing we did was capture about one-fourth of the Cadet votes for the Left bloc.
At the other extreme there are the districts that are not hopeless, where the Social-Democrats, supported by the Trudoviks, roused a mass of new elements, and roused the urban poor from their apathy and somnolence, to political life. These are the Alexander-Nevsky and Petersburg wards. Here the gain in the anti-Black-Hundred vote, i.e., the Cadets and Lefts combined, is over one thousand in each district. Here most of the Left votes are new votes, not votes captured from the Cadets. The voice of struggle, the voice of the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks has awakened those whom the unctuous voice of the Cadets could not rouse.
In the Petersburg Ward we had only to capture 265 votes from the Cadets for victory to have been ours. Clearly, 265 added to 2,754 would have made victory quite possible. And it is also clear that the urban poor in these districts, by no means of the proletarian type—shop-assistants, cab drivers and small householders—rose in favour of the Lefts. It is obvious that the appeal issued by the Social-Democrats and supported by the Trudoviks was not made in vain, that a formidable number of the inhabitants of these districts are capable of going further than the Cadets, to the Left of the Cadets.
In the Alexander-Nevsky Ward the struggle was in comparably more difficult. To win there we would have had to capture 658 votes from the Cadets. Six hundred and fifty-eight in addition to 1,421 is rather a big figure, but still it is less than half. We have no right to regard as hopeless those districts in which we could have been victorious had we obtained fifty per cent more votes than we actually did.
The Kolomna Ward could easily have been won: all we had to do was to capture 99 votes from the Cadets. In the Vasilyevsky Ostrov Ward, where the three main lists—Cadet, Octobrist and Left—each polled about an equal number of votes, we could have won if we had captured 183 votes from the Cadets. In the Narva Ward we could have won if we had captured 368 votes from the Cadets.
To sum up: the Left bloc in St. Petersburg undoubtedly won over to its side the shop-assistants and the urban petty bourgeoisie, roused a section of them to political life for the first time, and captured a very considerable section of them from the Cadets.
The hopeless and despondent opinion that Social-Democratic ideas are unintelligible to trade and industrial office employees in the intermediary stage when the Trudoviks support the socialists, has been fully refuted by the St. Petersburg elections. If we want to and set about it properly, we can rouse for the political struggle hundreds and thousands of the urban poor in every district in the capital. We can win, in every district, hundreds of shop-assist ants, clerks, etc., from the party of the bourgeois liberals who are bargaining with Stolypin. If we work tirelessly in that direction, the influence of the treacherous Cadets over the urban poor will be broken. The Cadets will not survive another election struggle against the Left bloc in St. Petersburg! They will be completely routed under the present electoral law, if they go into battle again after months of “Stolypin” agitation and Milyukov haggling!
Indeed, it is obvious that even in the present elections the Left bloc needed very little more to achieve a victory. The only hopeless districts were the Admiralty, Liteiny, Spassky, Rozhdestvensky, Kazan and Moscow. In these six districts we needed over fifty per cent more votes than we received in order to win, and this was hardly conceivable, however strenuously we might have conducted election agitation, distributed literature, etc. (or, rather, it was conceivable, but not under Stolypin’s military-court manner of conducting free elections!). The first two of these districts were socially inaccessible to the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks. The other four were accessible, but our activities among the trade and industrial office employees in those districts were still far too feeble.
We captured one of the remaining six districts the first time we contested it as a Left bloc. In four we were from 99 to 368 votes short of capturing them from the Cadets. In one we were 658 votes short. We had only to capture 1,573 votes from the Cadets, in these five districts, and the Left bloc would have been victorious, would have won the whole of St. Petersburg!
It is doubtful whether anyone will venture to say that it would have been too much for the Social-Democrats to capture 1,573 votes in five districts if they had worked unitedly, if the opportunists, who were bargaining with the Cadets, had not procrastinated so long in forming the Left bloc, or if the breakaway Mensheviks had not acted as blacklegs against the Left bloc.
What is a blackleg? A blackleg is a man connected with the fighting proletariat, who tries to trip it up when it is engaged in the collective struggle.
Does this definition fit the breakaway Mensheviks? Of course it does, for they subverted the unity of the Social-Democratic organisation in St. Petersburg, sowed discord in the ranks of the fighters, deserted to the Cadets at the height of the battle, and lastly, deliberately obstructed us even after the Left bloc was formed. Suffice it to recall that the Left bloc was formed on January 25, and on January 28, the breakaway Mensheviks issued, in Tovarishch, an appeal to the voters in five districts to abstain from voting! On February 1 the same Mensheviks (Rech) published an appeal, in which they tried to frighten petty bourgeoisie with the bogey of the Black-Hundred danger!
That is not all. In today’s Rech, page 3, there is a report on the elections in the Petersburg District, in which we read that one of the ballot papers was marked: “I abstain from voting. A Menshevik.”
Let the reader give thought to the significance of this! On January 28 the Mensheviks published, in Tovarishch, the resolutions of the executive body of the breakaway section. In Point VI of these resolutions, the Petersburg District was excluded from the list of districts where the Black-Hundred danger was supposed to have existed.
Point VI stated expressly that an agreement with the Lefts was expedient in the Petersburg District. Point III stated expressly that even if no agreement was reached with the Lefts the Mensheviks called upon the voters to vote for the Lefts in those districts where there was no “obvious” Black-Hundred danger. And yet a “Menshevik” abstained from voting in the Petersburg District!! Then what did the breakaway Mensheviks do in other districts?
After this, how can anybody fail to recognise the fact that it was blacklegging by a section of the Mensheviks that prevented the victory of the Left bloc in the St. Petersburg elections, where there was no Black-Hundred danger at all?
Let the proletariat learn from the vacillations and treachery of the petty bourgeoisie. We shall always be the first to unfurl our flag boldly and resolutely. We shall always urge the petty bourgeoisie to throw off the tutelage of the liberals and come over to the side of the proletariat. And these tactics—the only revolutionary, proletarian tactics in a bourgeois revolution—will bring us victory at every revival of the mass political struggle.
Saratov, Nizhni-Novgorod—the first victory; Moscow, St. Petersburg—the first attack. Enough, gentlemen of the Cadet Party! The deception of the urban poor by the liberal landlords and the bourgeois lawyers is coming to an end. Let. the Stolypins and the Milyukovs sneer at the “red rag”. The Social-Democrats are standing at their post, keeping the red flag flying in the sight of all toilers and all the exploited.
 Ternii Truda (Thorns of Labour)—a Bolshevik legal weekly published in St. Petersburg from December 24, 1906 (January 6, 1907) to January 6 (19), 1907. Lenin was an active collaborator. All the issues were confiscated by the police and further publication was prohibited by the St. Petersburg City Court.
 Zreniye (Vision)—a Bolshevik legal weekly published in St.. Peters burg during the Second Duma election campaign in 1907, with Lenin participating. Only two issues appeared, containing four articles by Lenin. Both were confiscated by order of the St. Petersburg Press Committee, and publication of the paper was prohibited by the St. Petersburg City Court.