V. I.   Lenin

Descending Rung by Rung

Written: Written on January 19 (February 1), 1901
Published: Published in Proletary, No. 12, January 25, 1907. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 24-28.
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.README

The St. Petersburg elections provide a wealth of instructive material for a true study of the character of the various parties, and the class tendencies, or class significance, of their policies.

In this respect two facts are of greatest interest: the negotiations between the Cadets and Stolypin, the leader of the Black-Hundred government, and the negotiations between the petty-bourgeois parties and the liberal landlords, the Cadets.

So far we know very little about the negotiations between the Cadets and the Black Hundreds: the audience granted by Stolypin to Milyukov, attempts to legalise the Cadet Party, for which the Cadets are to pay by abstaining from entering into blocs with the Lefts. These negotiations are being carried on very secretly, and their exposure is a matter of the future.

The other negotiations are to a certain extent public. The role the opportunist Social-Democrats are playing in them is particularly clear.

Why did they break away from the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic organisation?

So as to make a deal with the Cadets.

But the Cadets will not agree to a deal with the Mensheviks alone.

And so, the Mensheviks are entering into a bloc with all the petty-bourgeois parties, i.e., the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Trudoviks, and the Popular Socialists.

The opportunists who have broken away from Social-Democracy are going over to the petty bourgeoisie!

What are the terms of this bloc?

They are: to enter into a joint agreement with the Cadets to secure for the Left bloc three Duma seats out of the six.

We know that the agreement between the Mensheviks and the petty-bourgeois parties has been made in writing— at any rate, a joint resolution has been adopted. Apparently, the new allies do not want to inform the public about it, or are in no hurry to do so.

We also know that Comrade Dan took part In the negotiations on the formation of this bloc, although he had not been authorised to do so either by the group of breakaway St. Petersburg Social-Democrats (31), or by any other party organisation.

We could not even dream of better confirmation than that provided by the course of political events, of our constant assertion that the Mensheviks are the opportunist, petty-bourgeois section of the workers’ party, and that they are as unprincipled and vacillating as the petty bourgeoisie in general.

Just think what the Mensheviks are doing. Did they not proclaim from the housetops that they were protecting the class purity of Social-Democracy against the Bolsheviks, who, they alleged, were leaning towards the petty-bourgeois Socialist-Revolutionaries?

And now events are unmasking them. The Bolsheviks are openly urging the petty bourgeoisie to follow the proletariat against the liberal bourgeoisie.

The Mensheviks refuse, and secretly (for no one knows the terms of the bloc, and no one has authorised Comrade Dan) enter into a bloc with all the petty-bourgeois groups, including the extreme Right wing (the Popular Socialists), in order jointly to surrender those workers who are under their influence to the leadership of the liberal bourgeoisie!

All the petty-bourgeois parties, including the Mensheviks (it is not for nothing that Rech has already registered them as part of the “opposition bloc” which has abandoned the revolution, and has classified the Popular Socialists and the Mensheviks among the “moderate socialist parties”), prefer bargaining with the liberals to fighting in the ranks of the proletariat.

Let all class-conscious workers in St. Petersburg consider very carefully whither the Mensheviks are leading the workers’ party!

What, may it be asked, is the result of the negotiations between the petty bourgeoisie and the liberals?

So far, all we know from today’s papers (January 19) is that a meeting took place in St. Petersburg yesterday of representatives of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Trudovik Group, the Popular Socialists and the Mensheviks (i.e., the entire new petty-bourgeois bloc), and the Cadets According to this report, the Cadets have definitely refused to cede three seats to the “Left bloc”. But the “Left” bloc has refused to accept two seats.

Rech says in this connection: ’The representatives of the Bolshevik Social-Democrats did not attend the conference." That is true. We do not associate with the petty bourgeoisie to betray the workers’ party to the liberals!

What will happen next? No one knows. Probably, the petty-bourgeois bloc and the Cadets will go on with their bargaining.

It is reported, however, that there is a workers’ committee in the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, which emphatically condemns blocs with the Cadets. What truth there is in this, we do not know, for the Socialist-Revolutionaries are deliberately concealing from the public both the terms of their agreement with the Popular Socialists (no one even knows when and by whom, exactly, this agreement was concluded!) and the trends in their own party on the question of blocs with the Cadets.

Today (January 19), Rech has published a resolution adopted by the St. Petersburg Committee of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party which confirms the rumour that the workers’ section of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party is not in favour of blocs with the Cadets. The Rech report reads as follows:

“The St. Petersburg Committee of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, having entered into an agreement [which? when? on what terms?][1] with the Trudovik and Popular   Socialist groups, has decided to submit to both sections of the Social-Democratic Party—the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks—a proposal that the socialist [?] groups enter into an agreement for the purpose of conducting the pre[?]-election campaign in the most purposeful manner; and in the event of no agreement being reached with the two sections, to enter into an agreement with the Bolsheviks. In concluding this joint socialist agreement, the representatives of the Socialist-Revolutionaries must insist [?!?] on the impermissibility of agreements with the Cadets, and on the independent action of the socialist alliance.

“If, however, the majority of the groups [?] consider that a technical [!?] agreement with the Cadets is more expedient than independent action, the St. Petersburg Committee of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party will submit [!] to the decision of the majority [the majority of other parties!], but will make it an absolute condition of the agreement that all the seats to which the socialist groups will be entitled shall be ceded exclusively to the worker curia.”

A prize of 1,000,000 rubles might well be offered to anyone who could make anything out of this rigmarole! Insist on the impermissibility of agreements with the Cadets after having provisionally formed a bloc with the Popular Socialists who are wholeheartedly in favour of the Cadets! Demand from the Cadets three seats for the worker curia exclusively and at the same time take part in a “conference” with the Cadets jointly with the Popular Socialists and the Trudoviks, who do not make such a demand! Boast of in dependence as a party as distinct from “groups” and at the same time submit to the “majority”, i.e., to the three groups (Trudoviks, Popular Socialists and Mensheviks)! 0 wise Oedipus, solve this riddle!

And the workers representing the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (in the Moscow District of St. Petersburg) approve this petty-bourgeois eyewash, which conceals the betrayal of their interests ·to the liberals! But these workers add: “We express our deep indignation with the Menshevik faction of the Social-Democratic Party for its obstructionist behaviour towards other socialist groups and parties.”

0 simple-minded Socialist-Revolutionary proletarians!

If you are indignant with the Mensheviks, why are you not indignant with the St. Petersburg Committee of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party? Both are dragging you under the wing of the liberals.

The underlying cause of this dissension within the petty-bourgeois bloc is quite clear. There is a danger of a rupture with the Cadets. The Popular Socialists and the Mensheviks are, perhaps, not averse to accepting two seats from the Cadets and to betraying the rest of the petty bourgeoisie, just as the Mensheviks betrayed the proletariat!

That’s what’s behind it all!

From rung to rung downwards. Betray the workers’ party and join the petty-bourgeois bloc. Betray the petty-bourgeois democratic bloc and join the Cadets! Go, and good riddance!

At the audience granted to him by Stolypin, Milyukov said: “May it please Your Excellency to note that I have split the revolution and have torn the moderates away from it. Haven’t I earned a tip, Your Grace?”... Stolypin: “Well, yes, I will petition for your legalisation. I’ll tell you what, Pavel Nikolayevich, you split that working-class rabble gently, and I will do it with a club. And so ... between the two of us... Let’s shake hands on it, Pavel Nikolayevich!”


[1] Interpolations in square brackets (within passages quoted by Lenin) have been introduced by Lenin unless otherwise indicated.—Ed.

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