V. I.   Lenin

“When You Hear the Judgement of a Fool... .”[2]

From the Notes of a Social-Democratic Publicist

Published: Published in pamphlet form in January 1907 by the Novaya Duma Publishers. Published according to the pamphlet text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, pages 456-474.
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, January 15, 1907

The bourgeois press is now gossiping and cackling over the resolutions of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic Conference. The liberals, from the pompous official organ Rech to the gutter rag Segodnya, are united in a general chorus of jubilation over the split caused by the Mensheviks, of triumph at the return of these prodigal sons of “society” to the fold of the “opposition bloc”, at their emancipation from “revolutionary illusions”.

Social-Democrats who are really on the side of the revolutionary proletariat would do well to ask: “But who are the judges?”

Let us take what is perhaps the best of these judges, Rodnaya Zemlya, of January 15. The trend of this newspaper is undoubtedly more Left than that of the Cadets. Judging from all the facts, it may be called a Trudovik trend. As documentary confirmation of this political estimate we may point out that Mr. Tan[3] is a contributor to that newspaper. Mr. Tan’s name is in the published list of members of the organising committee of the “Trudovik (Popular Socialist) Party”.

And so, the judges are the Trudoviks.

They condemn the Bolsheviks, and, like the Cadets, approve the plan of the Mensheviks. They disagree with the Cadets only in that they object to the latter getting more than two or three seats in the general bloc of all the Left parties.

Such is the verdict. Let us examine the grounds.

“The controversy undoubtedly centres on the question whether there is or is not a Black-Hundred danger in St. Petersburg.”

That is not true. If you take it upon yourselves to judge the Bolshevik Social-Democrats in a leading article of a political newspaper, it is your duty to know what you are judging. In that leading article you yourselves say: “The controversy that has now flared up over the resolutions of the [Social-Democratic] conference is undoubtedly one of public interest.” People who express the wish publicly to participate in a controversy of general interest and at once betray their ignorance of the “centre” of the controversy run the risk of having a none too flattering appellation hurled at them....

The revolutionary Social-Democrats have repeatedly explained and insisted in all their numerous political declarations that the so-called Black-Hundred danger cannot be regarded as the “centre” of the controversy over election tactics.

Why not? Because the tactics of the workers’ party during the elections must be only the application to a particular case of the general principles of the socialist tactics of the proletariat. Elections are only one of the fields, and by no means the most important, most essential one (particularly in a revolutionary period), in which the socialist proletariat wages the struggle for liberty and for the abolition of all exploitation. In addition to the one waged with the aid of ballot papers, there is another type of struggle, which inevitably flares up in times of revolution. This other struggle is apt to be forgotten by intellectuals who imagine that they are men of education, whose sympathies for liberty lie no deeper than the tips of their tongues. And it is apt to be forgotten by the small proprietors, who stand aloof from the bitter, everyday struggle against capital and its henchmen. But the proletarian does not forget about it.

Therefore, for the class-conscious proletarian, election tactics can only be an adaptation of his general tactics to a particular struggle, namely, the election struggle; under no circumstances does this imply a change in the principles of his tactics, or the shifting of the “centre” of these tactics.

The basis of socialist tactics in time of revolution consists in the progressive class, the proletariat, marching at the head of the people’s revolution (the revolution that is now taking place in Russia is a bourgeois revolution in the sense that the attainment of complete freedom and all the land for the people will not rid us in the least of the rule of the bourgeoisie; obviously, the fact that the revolution has this socio-economic character does not prevent it from being a people’s revolution). The progressive class must therefore consistently expose to the masses the falsity of all hopes of negotiations and agreements with the old regime in general, and of agreements between landlords and peasants over the land question in particular. The progressive class must pursue its independent line of undeviating struggle, supporting only those who are really fighting, and only to the ex tent that they fight.

Such are the basic principles of socialist tactics, which dictate to the workers’ party class independence as the rule, and collaboration and agreements only with the revolutionary bourgeoisie, and only as an exception.

The liberals do not understand these principles of Social-Democratic tactics. The idea of class struggle is foreign to them; the idea of contrasting a people’s revolution to deals and negotiations is repugnant to them. But in principle all Social-Democrats, Bolsheviks and even Mensheviks, accept these tactics. The Trudoviks, who undertake to edit a political organ without knowing the ABC of the contemporary tactical problems of socialism, can read about this even in the election platform of the Social-Democratic Party—the platform of the Mensheviks, who predominate in the Central Committee.

“Citizens,” states this platform, “you should elect to the Duma people who not only want liberty for Russia, but are anxious to help the people’s revolution to achieve it.... The majority in the First Duma, led by the party of ’people’s freedom’, hoped to obtain liberty and land by means of peaceful negotiations with the government Citizens! Elect fighters for the revolution, who, shoulder to shoulder with you, will continue the great cause that was initiated in January, October and December last year (1905).”

The “centre of the controversy”, which our Trudoviks have totally failed to grasp, is whether agreements with the Cadets can be sanctioned in principle from this point of view. The St. Petersburg Social-Democratic Conference answered this question in the negative, as the 14 delegates of the All-Russian Conference (of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party) had done before them. No agreements can be tolerated with a party which is bargaining and parley lug with the old regime. The Cadets cannot be our allies in the “people’s revolution”. Their admission to the ranks of the “fighters for the revolution” would not strengthen but weaken these fighters, whose work is being hindered by the Cadets, who are now openly opposing the struggle and all revolutionary slogans.

In failing to see the principle underlying the attitude of the Bolshevik Social-Democrats towards the Cadets, our judges have failed to notice the “elephant”.

These Trudoviks are entirely under the ideological influence of the bourgeois liberals. The elections have over shadowed everything for them; election results have over shadowed the task of enlightening the masses in the course of the election campaign. They have no idea how important it is for a Social-Democrat to carry on perfectly clear, definite and unambiguous election agitation if he is to remain true to his principles, loyal to his revolutionary stand point in spite of all efforts to tempt him with the prospect of a seat in the Duma, or to frighten him with the prospect of not winning a single seat in the capital. Absorbed in the liberals’ scrapping, the Trudoviks have forgotten all principles, they have forgotten all the fundamental objects of the revolution. They see nothing, understand nothing, care for nothing, and only keep on muttering: “one seat, two seats, three seats”!

...“The controversy ... centres on ... whether there is a Black Hundred danger in St. Petersburg.”...

So you reduce the Black-Hundred danger to the danger of a Black-Hundred victory in elections faked by the government! Cannot you understand, gentlemen, that by putting the question in this way, you are admitting that the government is already victorious, and that the cause of liberty,   which you prate about so much, is already lost? You yourselves do not see, and you are preventing the masses of the people from seeing, the real Black-Hundred danger, which is manifested not in the voting, but in the definition of the conditions of voting (the Senate interpretations and the impending repeal of the electoral law of December 11), in the nullification of the results of voting (the dissolution of the Duma). You are entirely adopting the vulgar liberal point of view and are concentrating your minds—and the minds of the mass of the people whom you are misleading—on a struggle within the limits of a fake law which is being still further faked. You fail to see the Black-Hundred danger in the form of the possible arrest of all the electors. You throw away that which depends on you, and wholly on you, which is at any rate a lasting and substantial asset to the revolution, namely: the development of the revolutionary spirit of the masses by consistent agitation. On the other hand, what you are chasing after depends not on you, but on the artifices of Stolypin, on a new Senate interpretation, on further violations of the electoral law by the police. Consequently, you are fighting the “Black-Hundred danger” in exactly the same way as the French bourgeois republicans are fighting the monarchist danger; namely, by strengthening monarchist institutions and the monarchist constitution within the republic. For, by instilling into the minds of the people the idea that the Black-Hundred danger is the danger of an increased Black-Hundred vote, you are perpetuating the ignorance of the most backward masses as to the real source and real nature of the Black-Hundred danger.

But let us proceed. Let us assume that there will be no further Senate interpretations concerning the elections and the electors. Let us take the question of the parties that may win the elections in St. Petersburg under the existing electoral system.

The Trudoviks cannot deny that the parties of the Right have been seriously compromised; that the Union of October Seventeenth is suffering defeat after defeat, each more ignominious than the last; that “of late the Octobrists have completely subsided, stunned by heavy blows from the Left”; that “the public has swung to the Left”.

But ... Shchedrin long ago translated this “but” of the Russian liberals into intelligible language: “ears will never grow higher than foreheads, never!”—but “technical difficulties”, “literature is not being delivered”, “they won’t give us ballot papers”, “police restrictions”....

There you have the psychology of the Russian intellectual: in words he is a bold radical, in deeds he is a contemptible little government official.

The remedy for police restrictions is supposed to lie in blocs with the Cadets! Why not blocs with the Octobrists, who “want” a constitution, and are sure of not being subject ed to “restrictions”? Truly Russian political logic: electoral agreements to combat the failure of the post-office to deliver literature, to combat the refusal to issue ballot papers.... What are you combating, gentlemen?

The “laws” which sanction the outrageous conduct of the police, which declare certain parties to be “illegal” and deprive them of ballot papers. How are you combating them?

Why, of course, by means of an agreement with a party which will either obtain ballot papers from the Peaceful Renovators, or come to terms with Stolypin before the Duma opens, or else will also be left without ballot papers!

The Russian government official (a radical at twenty, a liberal at thirty, and simply an official at forty) is accustomed to play the liberal when at home and make threatening gestures where nobody can see him. He thinks the election campaign should be fought along these same lines. Influence the masses? Nonsense, the post-office refuses to deliver our literature.

Publish and distribute literature without the “post-office” and similar institutions?

Nonsense! These are obsolete, revolutionary illusions, which are not in accord with “broad” constitutional activity. Broad constitutional activity consists in acting so as to fool the authorities; “they” will look for me among the Social-Democrats, or among the Socialist-Revolutionaries, but I shall hide in the Cadet list so well that they will not find me. The government will look for me as a revolutionary, but I shall fool both the government and the revolutionaries; I shall go over to the “opposition bloc”. You see what a clever fellow I am!

But will it not turn out, Oh worthy politician, that you will be fooling also the masses, who will no longer be able to distinguish you from the “opposition” of the obsequious liberals?

Nonsense! What do the masses matter?... Well, we’ll give the workers’ curia a seat.... And then, from a certain point of view, we are all in favour of freedom ... the revolution has become a national cause ... the Cadets, too, are ready to fight in their own way....

The question arises, have our Trudoviks any political ideas, besides ideas relating to the police? They have. Their idea is that we must adapt ourselves not to the energetic and active voter, but to the stay-at-home, the cowed or sleepy voter. Listen to the arguments of a “Left” newspaper:

“The temper that prevails at meetings is no criterion of the temper of the whole mass of voters.... Not more than one-tenth of the voters go to meetings; of course, these are the most energetic, lively and active people.”

Truly a sufficient reason for trailing in the wake of the least energetic, the most lifeless and inactive Cadet voters! The tragedy of the Russian radical is that for decades he has been yearning for meetings, for liberty, burning with passion (in words) for liberty; and when he goes to a meeting and finds that its temper is more radical than his own, he begins to sigh: “it is hard to judge”, “not more than one-tenth”, “one must be a bit more cautious, gentlemen!” He is just like Turgenev’s ardent hero who ran away from Asya, and about whom Chernyshevsky wrote “A Russian at a Rendezvous”.[4]

Oh, you, who call yourselves supporters of the toiling masses! It’s not for you to go to a rendezvous with the revolution. Stay at home; really, it will be quieter there; and you need have no dealings with these dangerous “most energetic, lively and active people”. Stay-at-home philistines are more your type!

Perhaps this simple example will help you to grasp the “centre of the controversy” over agreements with the Cadets?

It is, my dear sir, that we want to shake up the philistine and make a citizen of him. And to do that we must   compel him to choose between the philistine policy of the Cadets who are prostrating themselves before the (pshaw! pshaw!) “constitution”, and the revolutionary policy of the socialist proletariat.

A “bloc of all the Left parties” means submerging the “one tenth, the most energetic, lively and active people”, in the mass of the apathetic, stolid and somnolent. It means subordinating those who are willing to fight (and are capable of carrying the masses with them at the decisive moment) to those who prefer to play the same despicable game of loyalty that the Cadets played in the First Duma, and, like the Cadet Lvov, prefer to haggle with Stolypin and basely go over to the latter.

The reaction is attacking us, it has already withdrawn a good third of what was gained in October, and is threatening to withdraw the other two-thirds. But you pose as men of law and order and defend yourselves by appealing to philistine mentality: no attacks; no revolution; we are going into the Duma to legislate; we confine ourselves to defence; we abide by the law!

When will you understand that to keep on the defensive is in itself an admission of moral defeat? In fact, you are people who have suffered moral defeat. All you are fit for is to vote for the Cadets.

“Compel the philistine to choose”, we said. Yes, compel. No socialist party in the world could wrest the masses from the influence of the liberal or radical bourgeois parties, which base themselves on the mentality of the philistine, without giving them a jolt, without meeting with some resistance, without taking the risk involved in the first experiment to decide who is really defending liberty, we or the Cadets?

If there is an agreement with the Cadets, the philistine has no need to worry about this. The radical windbag politicians and Social-Democratic opportunists have already thought the matter out for him at their rendezvous with the Cadets. The philistine has shifted to the Left (not as a result of our efforts, not as a result of our Party propaganda, but as a result of Stolypin’s zeal)—that’s enough for us. And since he has shifted to the Left, he will be for a “bloc of all the Lefts”! And it will be the whole mass of philistines, not   merely the restive—pardon—active one-tenth of the people. We should adapt our meetings and our whole policy to suit the cowardly philistine—that is what a bloc with the Cadets means in practice.

But we said: We need not only leaflets and platforms, resolutions and speeches, but we must carry out our whole policy, and election campaign in such a way as to draw a sharp contrast between the cowardly philistine and the staunch fighter. And this can be done only by contrasting two different lists: the Cadet list and the Social-Democratic list. In the metropolis, whose newspapers circulate all over Russia, where the headquarters of all the political parties are located, which leads the country ideologically and politically, it is a thousand times more important to give an example, not of a policy of philistine equanimity, but of a policy worthy of the October fighters who wrested a little freedom from the authorities, a policy worthy of the proletariat.

Our talk about the necessity of recognising the mistakes of the “peace-loving” Cadet Duma, and of taking a step for ward, will remain idle talk unless we ourselves take a step forward in combating the philistine Oblomov[5] idea of “a bloc of all the Left parties”. Our calls to go forward will ring false and will fail to fire the hearts of the fighters among the people if we ourselves, the “guides”, the “leaders”, mark time in the capital in full view of all the peoples of Russia, arm in arm with these same Cadets, on the basis of an “amicable” distribution of seats, in friendly fashion, all together, all for the same cause, all for liberty.... What is the use of reviving old quarrels? What harm if the Menshevik Ivan Ivanovich did call the Cadet Ivan Nikiforovich a goose?[6]

“Not more than one-tenth of the voters go to meetings.”

Very well, Mr. Radical. We will take your word for it for once; we will concede this point to you, because—because your argument is so clumsy.

One-tenth of the voters makes 13,000 out of 130,000 for the whole of St. Petersburg. These 13,000, the most energetic, lively and active voters, are more to the Left than the Cadets. Let us ask ourselves: Can anyone of sound mind and judgement assert that the energetic people who attend meetings do not lead a certain number of the less energetic, stay-at-home voters? Everyone will realise that such an assertion   would be wrong; that in a city with a population of a million and a half there are thousands of agencies and channels, apart from newspapers and meetings, through which the mood of the advanced elements is communicated to the masses. Everyone will understand—and all elections in all countries confirm it—that every energetic voter who attends meetings is backed by not one but several stay-at-home voters.

At the last elections, of the total of 150,000 voters in St. Petersburg, 60,000 went to the poll. Of these, about 40,000 voted for the Cadets, and about 20,000 in the whole of St. Petersburg voted for the Rights. We have heard from our Mr. Radical himself, who does not wish to be an “optimist” (Heaven forbid! our radicals want to be “steady respectable people”... like the German radicals of the eighteen forties).... We have heard from him that the Octobrists have become quiescent, and we know from facts of their utter defeat. Now we hear of 13,000 energetic voters who are more to the Left than the Cadets. Remember that this proportion varies considerably in the different districts. Remember the number of votes that are usually behind every voter who goes to meetings.

It will be clear to you then that the danger of a Black-Hundred vote in St. Petersburg, meaning the danger of the Rights being elected to the Duma as a result of a split in the Cadet and socialist vote, is a preposterous fable. For the Rights to be elected to the Duma in St. Petersburg, the votes in the majority of the districts would not merely have to be split, but split in such a way that both the Cadets and the socialists would each have fewer votes than the Black-Hundred list. That is an obvious absurdity.

Therefore, we say plainly: if the Black-Hundred danger does not manifest itself in violations of the “constitution” (and it is the estimate of this prospect that is the crux of the difference between the tactics of the Cadets and that of the socialists), then a split in the Cadet and socialist vote cannot possibly result in a victory for the Rights in St. Peters burg.

The cry about the danger of a Black-Hundred victory in the elections in St. Petersburg is a deception of the people spread by the Cadets, the “radicals” and the opportunists   of every brand, and serves the interests of philistinism in politics. In practice, the fable about this Black-Hundred danger is in the interests of the Cadets, whom it helps to protect against the danger from the Left. It serves to dull the senses of the masses, for it does not require them, when they cast their vote, to distinguish between the “legislating” bourgeois Cadet and the socialist who is leading the people into battle.

Therefore, when the general chorus of liberals, Trudoviks and opportunist Social-Democrats howl at us: You are isolated!—we answer calmly: We are very glad to have isolated ourselves from a fraud. We are very glad to have isolated ourselves from a dirty business. For to come before a mass of 130,000 voters in St. Petersburg, after January 9, 1905, and after October 1905, in order to help to elect Kutler, Nabokov, Struve & Co. to the Duma is certainly a dirty business.

We predict to the Trudoviks and to the opportunist Social-Democrats who are rejoicing in anticipation that the Cadets will get them and not the Bolsheviks into the Duma— we predict that if the Second Duma is a Cadet Duma, the Trudoviks and opportunist Social-Democrats will be ashamed of having helped to elect the Cadets. They will now be directly responsible for it. And the Cadets in the Second Duma will move so far to the right (this is evident from their general behaviour and from all the political literature they have issued during the past year) that even the extreme opportunists will be obliged to expose them. In the First Duma, the Cadet Lvov went over to the Peaceful Renovators and justified the Black-Hundred dissolution of the Duma. In the Second Duma (unless history brings us a radical change that will wipe out all petty deals with the Cadets, and all the Cadets themselves), in the Second Duma the Cadets of the Lvov type will show their true colours not at the end, but at the beginning.

Well then, gentlemen, take the seats in the Duma that the Cadets are offering you! We do not envy you. We shall undertake to warn the mass of the workers and of the petty bourgeoisie in the capital. We shall undertake to make them realise—not only by speeches, but also by means of the elections themselves—the gulf that divides the Cadets from the

Every man to his trade—though “there are hosts of people who would like to mix these two trades, we are not of their number.”[7]

“And they,” says the leading article in Rodnaya Zemlya, speaking of the Bolsheviks, “will now be even more isolated than ever; for those former boycottists, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, are now not only taking part in the elections, but are even in favour of a bloc with the Cadets.”

This is new and interesting. We have already observed, on a former occasion, that on this question of electoral agreements the Socialist-Revolutionaries are not behaving like a political party, but like an intellectualist clique, for we heard of no open political action of their organisations on this question. And now, assuming that the newspaper for which Mr. Tan writes is not telling a down right lie and is not repeating an unverified rumour, we shall draw this further conclusion—namely: in the matter of electoral agreements the Socialist-Revolutionaries are guilty of political dishonesty, or, at any rate, are displaying vacillation that amounts to a political danger.

Everyone knows that the Conference of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation rejected a bloc with the Cadets and offered to enter into an electoral agreement with the Trudoviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries against the Cadets. Our resolution was published in all the newspapers.

Negotiations between the St. Petersburg Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and the appropriate bodies of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Committee of the Trudovik Group have already taken place. Differences arose over our exclusion of the Popular Socialists and over the distribution of seats. If, nevertheless, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, who began negotiations with us after we had declared that we had definitely decided to give battle to the Cadets in St. Petersburg, have begun, or are continuing, negotiations with the Cadets for a bloc, then obviously, the Socialist-Revolutionaries are guilty of political dishonesty.

We openly declare: We are going to fight the Cadets. Who is on our side?

But the Socialist-Revolutionaries are negotiating both with us and with the Cadets!

We repeat: We do not know whether the leading article in Rodnaya Zemlya told the truth or not. We cannot altogether ignore a direct statement made by an organ to which Mr. Tan, a member of the Organising Committee of the Popular Socialist Party, is a contributor. We have learned about the bloc between the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Popular Socialists from the press and from the communications made by the Socialist-Revolutionaries in their negotiations with us (although we are ignorant of the terms of this bloc and of its real nature; in this connection also something is going on behind the scenes).

Our duty, therefore, is to raise this question publicly and openly, so that all may know of the behaviour of a certain political party. Hitherto, in this country, the alignment of parties has been determined only by their programmes and literature—but these, after all, are only words. The First Duma provided an opportunity of judging some parties by their actions. Now we must make use of the elections, too, and we shall use them for fully enlightening the masses as to the real nature of the parties.

That the Socialist-Revolutionaries are hiding something in their relations with the Popular Socialists is now a political fact. That the Socialist-Revolutionaries are now actually trailing in the wake of the opportunist party that has split off from them is also a fact. Hence, in regard to revolutionary independence and determination the Socialist-Revolutionaries are really much worse than they seem to be. And if they agree to enter into a bloc with the Cadets— and to gain a seat not for themselves, but for the Popular Socialists—we shall have excellent agitational material with which to explain to the workers of St. Petersburg the Marxist thesis of the utter instability and deceptive exterior of the petty-bourgeois (even if revolutionary) parties.

We not only think that it is a matter of honour for a Social-Democrat to “isolate” himself from such parties, but we think it is the only well-calculated policy to pursue. But our calculation is made not from the point of view of seats in the Duma, but from the point of view of the working- class movement as a whole, from the point of view of the fundamental interests of socialism.

But let us return to Rodnaya Zemlya. The following pas sage shows how frivolous that newspaper can be.

“Generally speaking, the decisions of the Bolshevik Conference appear to have been adopted hastily and rashly. After all, in what respect are t.he Trudoviks better than the Popular Socialists?”

This “after all” is a real gem. The author is such an ignoramus in politics that he does not even realise that he is walking about naked, like an Australian savage. And these are the educated politicians of the petty bourgeoisie!

Well, there is nothing for it but to perform the “thankless task” of the publicist: to go over old ground and teach the ABC.

The Trudoviks, i. e., the Committee of the Trudovik Group, which was approached by the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic Conference, and the Popular Socialists, originated from the Trudovik Group in the First Duma. This Trudovik Group had two wings: one opportunist, the other revolutionary. The difference between them was most clearly revealed in the two Land Bills introduced by the Trudovik Group: the Bill of the 104, and the Bill of the 33.

Common to both Bills is that (1) they are in favour of transferring the land from the landlords to the peasants; (2) they are thoroughly permeated with the spirit of petty-bourgeois utopianism., the utopia of “equalising” small proprietors (in some respects, at least) in a society based on commodity production.

The difference between these Bills is that the first is permeated with the small proprietor’s fear of being too radical, of drawing too large a mass of poor people into the movement. This “spirit” of the Bill of the 104 was admirably expressed by one of its authors, one of the leaders of the Popular Socialists, Mr. Peshekhonov, in referring to the declaration of the “thrifty muzhiks” in the Duma: “We were sent here to get land, not to give it up.” This means that in addition to the utopia of petty-bourgeois equalitarianism this wing of the Trudoviks clearly expresses the selfish interests of the more well-to-do section of the peasantry, who are afraid lest they might have to “give up” something (on the assumption that there will be general “equalisation”, as socialism is conceived by the petty bourgeois). Take from the   landlord, but give nothing to the proletarian, such is the motto of the party of the thrifty muzhiks.

On the other hand, the Bill of the 33 proposes the immediate and complete abolition of private property in land. It also contains the “equalitarian” utopia, and to the same degree, but it does not express the fear of having to “give up”. This is the utopia, not of the opportunist but of the revolutionary petty bourgeois; not of the thrifty muzhik, but of the ruined muzhik. It is not a dream of profiting from the landlord to the detriment of the proletarian, it is a dream of making everybody, including the proletarians, happy by equalisation. It expresses, not the fear of drawing the broadest and poorest masses into the movement, but the desire to draw them into the struggle (the desire is there, but the ability or understanding how to do so is lacking).[1]

After the Duma this difference in the two trends among the Trudoviks led to the formation of two distinct political organisations: the Committee of the Trudovik Group, and the Popular Socialist Party. The former has earned an honourable place in the history of the Russian revolution by its July manifestoes. So far as public knowledge goes, it has not yet forfeited its good reputation, has never renounced its manifestoes or joined the chorus of moaners, grousers and renegades.

The second organisation took advantage of the period of the dissolution of the Duma to legalise itself under the Stolypin regime, to “berate” the above-mentioned manifestoes in the legal press, where it was shielded from criticism from the Left, to advise the people “for the time being” not to come into conflict with certain institutions of the old regime, and so forth. The Conference of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation was, if anything, rather mild in its criticism of this party when it spoke of its “evasive position on the fundamental questions of the struggle outside the Duma”.

Thus, the political facts so far are that the petty-bourgeois or Trudovik parties have clearly split into the parties of   the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie (the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Committee of the Trudovik Group) and a party of the opportunist petty bourgeoisie (the Popular Socialists). Since for Social-Democrats the election campaign is a means for politically educating the masses, here too, by distinguishing two Trudovik parties from a third, we have compelled the ordinary man in the street to ponder over the reasons for this distinction. And after thinking it out and realising what it is all about he will make an intelligent choice.

In conclusion we must note that the naïve and ignorant leader-writer of Rodnaya Zemlya indulges also in amusing sophistries to support his case. It would not be amiss to analyse one of these sophistries, which is of a kind that just suits philistines:

“The Bolsheviks are wrong even if there is no Black-Hundred danger. For, in that case, there is no need for a bloc with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Trudoviks, and the Socialist-Democratic Party could with great benefit to the purity of its class content come out in the elections quite independently.”

See what clever fellows we are, thinks this radical—we can even judge of the purity of class content!

Yes, the modern newspaper hack “can” make judgements about anything, but he lacks knowledge and understanding. It is not true to say that the need to preserve the purity of a class position precludes all agreements. To think so is to reduce the ideas of Marxism to absurdity, to make a caricature of them. And it is equally untrue to say that there is no need for a bloc with the Socialist-Revolutionaries if there is no Black-Hundred danger.

Complete independence of the Social-Democratic Labour Party in the election campaign is the general rule. But every live, mass party must allow certain exceptions, but only within reasonable and strictly defined limits. In the epoch of the bourgeois revolution all Social-Democrats sanctioned political agreements with the revolutionary bourgeoisie, when they worked together in the Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, Soldiers’, Railwaymen’s, etc., Deputies, and when they signed the famous manifesto of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies (December 1905) or the July manifestoes (July   1906). The leader-writer of Rodnaya Zemlya is evidently ignorant of the most generally known facts about the parts played by the various parties in the Russian revolution. The revolutionary Social-Democrats reject unprincipled agreements, they reject harmful and unnecessary agreements, but they would never think of tying their hands altogether and under all circumstances. That would be childish. The platform of the 14 delegates at the All-Russian Social-Democratic Conference is documentary proof of that.

To proceed. The “necessity” of an agreement with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Trudoviks in St. Petersburg arises from the Cadet danger. Had the author of the leading article in Rodnaya Zemlya been familiar with the subject which he undertook to discuss, he would have known that even among the Social-Democrats who support agreements with the Cadets there are highly influential bodies (the Bund, for example) which recognise the need for a bloc with the revolutionary bourgeoisie in case of a Cadet danger, when there is no Black-Hundred danger. In St. Petersburg, it would be possible not only to conduct an election campaign in the spirit of revolutionary and socialist education of the masses (we Social-Democrats will achieve this in any case), but to defeat the Cadets, if the Menshevik Social-Democrats did not betray us, and if all the revolutionary Trudoviks followed all the socialists. And since we are conducting an election campaign, we have no right to miss any opportunity of achieving victory, as long as there is no violation of the principles of socialist tactics.

That the only important fight being waged in St. Petersburg is that between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats is proved by the election meetings (the same holds good for Moscow, and we may add that the results of all straw votes, such as that instituted by the newspaper Vek, or by the Shop Assistants’ Union “Unity and Strength”, have also confirmed this thesis).[8]

That an agreement with the Cadets means the ideological and political hegemony of the Cadets over their allies is borne out by the whole political press and by the whole character of the negotiations. The Cadets dictate the terms. The Cadets publicly lay down the significance of the agreements (recall their comments on the Mensheviks and the Popular   Socialists: “the moderate socialist parties”, “the opposition bloc”). The Cadets are asked to agree to an equal distribution of seats as a maximum concession.

It is equally beyond doubt that an agreement between the Social-Democrats and the revolutionary-democratic parties means the hegemony of the Social-Democrats over the petty bourgeoisie. The Social-Democratic press has given an open, clear and all-round exposition of all its views, whereas the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Committee of the Trudovik Group have made no independent statement whatever on the question of agreements. The keynote is set by the Social-Democrats. The modification of their socialist views, of their class standpoint, is quite out of the question. When it comes to distributing the seats no one will think of offering them the smaller share. Their campaign in the workers’ curia is proceeding quite independently, and is proving their preponderance.

Under such circumstances it would be simply absurd to be afraid to lead our revolutionary petty-bourgeois allies into battle against the Cadets. Under such circumstances we could even draw the Popular Socialists with us if the occasion required it. The principles of our Party would not suffer from this in the least: the political line would remain the same and the struggle against the leading party of the liberal-bourgeois conciliators would be waged with no less vigour. No sensible person would say that we were following the Popular Socialists (in conceding to them, together with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Committee of the Trudovik Group, two seats out of six). On the contrary, it would be proof that the Social-Democrats were conducting a really independent campaign, and that we had deprived the Cadets of one of their appendages. Is it not obvious that if the semi-Cadets came on our list, their mobilisation against the Cadets would not merely not prejudice, but would, on the contrary, facilitate the task of fighting the latter?

The Conference of the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation acted rightly in declaring openly and publicly its hostility towards the Popular Socialists. It was our duty to warn the revolutionary Trudoviks against such a pseudo-Trudovik party. If the revolutionary Trudoviks are   dependent on the Popular Socialist Party, which is formally an entirely independent party, let them say so publicly. It is most important for us to drag this fact into the light of day, to make them admit it, and to draw all the conclusions that follow from it in our agitation among the mass of the workers, among the whole people.

Whether we get Trudoviks of a better or worse quality as our allies in the fight against the Cadets in St. Petersburg, is a question that we shall decide in a purely practical way. We have formulated our principles. In any case we shall go into the fight independently. We have openly disclaimed responsibility for the least reliable Trudoviks and placed this responsibility on others.

*     *

The Left Cadets on Tovarishch tried to ridicule the Bolsheviks when the latter declared, as early as November, that three main parties were contending against each other in St. Petersburg: the Black Hundreds, the Cadets, and the Social-Democrats.

Rira bien qui rira le dernier (he who laughs last laughs best).

Our forecast has been proved correct.

There will be three lists for the Duma elections in St. Petersburg: the Black-Hundred, the Cadet and the Social-Democratic.

Citizens, make your choice!


[1] Of these and many other petty-bourgeois revolutionaries we might say what an anarchist poet said about us: “Together we’ll destroy, but not construct."[9]Lenin

[2] The pamphlet “When You Hear the Judgement of a Fool (From the Notes of a Social-Democratic Publicist) was printed in St. Petersburg in January 1907 by the Novaya Duma Publishers at the legal Bolshevik print-shop Dyelo. Soon after, the police confiscated almost every copy. In 1912 the tsarist government banned the pamphlet.

[3] Tan (pseudonym of V. G. Bogoraz)—one of the organisers of the semi-Cadet “Popular Socialist Party”.

[4] In the article “A Russian at a Rendezvous”, written on the basis of Turgenev’s story, Asya, Chernyshevsky branded the ineffectiveness, and divorce between words and deeds, of the Russian intelligentsia.

[5] Oblomov—a Russian landlord, the central character in I. A. Goncharov’s novel of that name. The name Oblomov has become synonymous with routine, stagnation and inertia.

[6] Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan Nikiforovich—characters in Gogol’s Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich.

[7] Lenin quotes the words of Chatsky, the main character in Griboyedov’s comedy Wit Works Woe.

[9] Lenin quotes the final line of V. Y. Bryusov’s poem To Near Ones.

[8] Lenin is referring to the attempt of the Left-Cadet newspaper Vek (Century) to collect data on the sentiments of the electors. In its issue No. 5, January 9 (22), 1907, the newspaper published preliminary results of the voting by its readers: 765 persons voted for the Cadets and 407 for the Social-Democrats. The other parties received a negligible number of votes.

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