V. I.   Lenin

In Memory of Count Heyden

What Are Our Non-Party Democrats Teaching the People?[3]

Written: June 1907
Published: Published in 1907 in the first symposium Voice of Life, St. Petersburg. Signed: N. L.. Published according to the book text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 13, pages 50-57.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
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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The progressive press was unanimous in expressing its profound condolence over the heavy loss sustained by Russia in the death of Count P. A. Heyden. The fine personality of Pyotr Alexandrovich attracted all decent people irrespective of party or trend. A rare, and happy lot!” There follows a lengthy quotation from the Right Cadet Russkiye Vedomosti[4] containing a sentimental effusion on the life and activities of that “wonderful man” by Prince P. D. Dolgorukov, one of that Dolgorukov breed whose spokesmen bluntly confessed the roots of their democracy: better come to terms with the peasants peacefully, than wait until they seize the land themselves!... “We deeply share the feelings of grief evoked by the death of Count Heyden in all who are accustomed to value the man irrespective of the party guise in which he may be invested. And the late Heyden was above all a man.”

So writes the newspaper Tovarishch, No. 296, Tuesday, June 19, 1907.

The journalists of Tovarishch are not only the most ardent democrats of our legal press, but also consider themselves socialists—critical socialists, of course. They are the nearest thing to Social-Democrats; and the Mensheviks— Plekhanov, Martov, Smirnov, Pereyaslavsky, Dan, etc., etc.—are offered the most cordial hospitality in a paper whose columns are adorned with the signatures of Prokopovich, Kuskova, Portugalov, and other “former Marxists”. In a word, there is not the slightest doubt that the journalists of Tovarishch are the most “Left” spokesmen of our   “enlightened”, “democratic”, etc., society, to which narrow illegal activities are alien.

And when you come across lines like those quoted above it is difficult to refrain from exclaiming to these gentlemen: How fortunate it is that we, the Bolsheviks, obviously did not belong to Tovarishch s circle of decent people!

Gentlemen, “decent people” of Russian enlightened democracy, you are drugging the minds of the Russian people and infecting them with the miasma of toadyism and servility a hundred times worse than those notorious members of the Black Hundred—Purishkevich, Krushevan, and Dubrovin, against whom you are waging such a zealous, such a liberal, such a cheap, such a, for you, profitable, and safe war. You shrug your shoulders and turn to all the “decent people” of your society with a scornful smile at the idea of such “absurd paradoxes”? Yes, we know perfectly well that nothing on earth can shake you out of your vulgar liberal complacency. And that is why we rejoice that we have succeeded in all our activities in setting up a solid wall between ourselves and the circle of decent people of Russian educated society.

Can one give any instance of the Black-Hundreds having corrupted and misled any considerable section of the population? One cannot.

Neither their press nor their league, neither their meetings nor the elections to the First and Second Dumas could provide any such instances. The outrages and atrocities of the Black Hundreds, in which the police and the soldiery take part, enrage the people. The frauds, dirty tricks, and bribes of the Black Hundreds arouse hatred and contempt. With the help of government funds the Black Hundreds organise gangs and bands of drunkards who can act only with the permission and at the instigation of the police. In all this there is not a trace of any dangerous ideological influence on any considerable sections of the population.

On the other hand, it is just as unquestionable that such an influence is exerted by our legal, liberal, and “democratic” press. The elections to the First and Second Dumas, meetings, associations, and educational affairs all go to prove this. And Tovarishch’s utterance in connection with   the death of Heyden clearly shows what kind of ideological influence this is.

“...A heavy loss ... fine personality ... happy lot ... was above all a man.”

Count Heyden, the landlord, magnanimously played the liberal prior to the October revolution.[5] After the first victory of the people on October 17, 1905, he immediately, without the slightest hesitation, went over to the counter revolutionary camp, to the Octobrist Party, the party of the landlords and big capitalists, who were incensed with the peasants and democracy. In the First Duma this noble character defended the government, and after the dissolution of the First Duma negotiated, but without reaching agreement, for a place in the Ministry. Such are the principal stages in the career of this typical counter-revolutionary landlord.

And along come well-dressed, enlightened, and educated gentlemen, mouthing phrases about liberalism, democracy, and socialism, and making speeches of sympathy for the cause of liberty, the cause of the peasants’ struggle against the landlords for land—gentlemen who possess a virtual monopoly of the legal opposition in the press, in the associations, and at meetings and elections—and, lifting up their eyes to heaven, preach to the people: “Rare and happy lot!... The late Count was above all a man.”

Yes, Heyden was not only a man; he was also a citizen, able to understand the common interests of his class and to defend those interests very skilfully. And you, gentlemen, the enlightened democrats, you are just tearful simpletons, concealing under a cloak of liberal idiocy your inability to be anything but cultured lackeys of this landlord class.

There is no need to fear the landlords’ influence on the people. They will never succeed in fooling any considerable number of workers or even peasants for any lengthy period. But the influence of the intelligentsia, who take no direct part in exploitation, who have been trained to use general phrases and concepts, who seize on every “good” idea and who sometimes from sincere stupidity elevate their inter-class position to a principle of non-class parties and non-class   politics—the influence of this bourgeois intelligentsia on the people is dangerous. Here, and here alone, do we find a contamination of the masses that is capable of doing real harm and that calls for the utmost exertion of all the forces of socialism to counteract this poison.

Heyden was an educated, cultured, humane, and tolerant man”—ecstatically exclaim the liberal and democratic droolers, imagining that they have raised themselves above all “partisanship” to the standpoint “common to all mankind”.

You are mistaken, most worthy sirs. This is not a stand point common to all mankind but a common servile stand point. The slave who is aware of his slavish condition and fights it is a revolutionary. The slave who is not aware of his slavish condition and vegetates in silent, unenlightened, and wordless slavery, is just a slave. The slave who drools when smugly describing the delights of slavish existence and who goes into ecstasies over his good and kind master is a grovelling boor. And you, gentlemen of Tovarishch, are just such boors. With disgusting complacency you wax sentimental over the fact that a counter-revolutionary landlord, who supported the counter-revolutionary government, was an educated and humane man. You do not realise that instead of turning the slave into a revolutionary you are turning slaves into grovellers. All your talk about freedom and democracy is sheer claptrap, parrot phrases, fashionable twaddle, or hypocrisy. It is just a painted signboard. And you yourselves are whited sepulchres. You are mean-spirited boors, and your education, culture, and enlightenment are only a species of thoroughgoing prostitution. For you are selling your souls, and you are selling them not through need, but for “love of the thing”.

Heyden was a convinced constitutionalist, you say sentimentally. You are lying, or else you have been completely hoodwinked by the Heydens. Publicly, before the people, to call a man a convinced constitutionalist when that man is known to have founded a party which supported the government of Witte, Dubasov, Goremykin, and Stolypin, is like calling a cardinal a convinced opponent of the pope. Instead of giving the people a correct idea of the constitution you, the democrats, treat the constitution   in your writings as something in the nature of salmon mayonnaise. For there can be no doubt that for the counter-revolutionary landlord the constitution is a sort of salmon mayonnaise, a means of perfecting the method of plundering and subjugating the muzhik and the masses of the people. If Heyden was a convinced constitutionalist, then Dubasov and Stolypin as well were convinced constitutionalists, for in practice Heyden supported their policy. Dubasov and Stolypin could not have been what they were and could not have pursued their policy without the support of the Octobrists, Heyden among them. By what tokens then, 0 ye sage democrats from among “decent” people, are we to judge the political physiognomy of a man (a “constitutionalist”) by his speeches, by the fact that he beats his breast and sheds crocodile tears? Or by his actual deeds in the social arena?

What is characteristic and typical of Heyden’s political activities? Is it that he could not reach agreement with Stolypin about joining the Ministry after the dissolution of the First Duma? Or is it that after such an act he proceeded to negotiate with Stolypin at all? Is it that formerly, at one time or another, he uttered some kind of liberal phrases? Or is it that he became an Octobrist (=a counter revolutionary) immediately after October 17? In calling Heyden a convinced constitutionalist, you teach the people that the former is characteristic and typical. And that means that you are senselessly repeating fragments of democratic slogans without understanding the rudiments of democracy.

For democracy—remember this, you decent gentlemen and members of respectable society—means fighting against that very domination over the country by counter-revolutionary landlords which Mr. Heyden upheld and of which he was the embodiment throughout his political career.

Heyden was an educated man—say our drawing-room democrats sentimentally. Yes, we have admitted this, and we willingly admit that he was better educated and cleverer (which does not always go together with education) than the democrats themselves, for he better understood the interests of his own class and his own counter-revolutionary social movement than you, gentlemen of Tovarishch, understand   the interests of the movement for emancipation. The educated counter-revolutionary landlord knew how to defend the interests of his class subtly and artfully; he skilfully covered up the selfish strivings and rapacious appetites of the semi-feudal landlords with a veil of noble words and outward gentlemanliness; he insisted (to Stolypin) on the protection of these interests by the most civilised forms of class domination. Heyden and his like brought all their “education” to the altar of the interests of the landlords. To a real democrat, and not a “respectable” boor from the Russian radical salons, this might have served as an excellent subject for a journalist who wanted to show the prostitution of education in modern society.

When the “democrat” prates about education, he wants to create in the reader’s mind an impression of superior knowledge, a broad outlook, and an ennobled mind and heart. For the Heydens education is a thin veneer, training, a “coaching” in gentlemanly ways of performing the meanest and dirtiest political deals. For all Heyden’s Octobrism, all his “peaceful renovationism”,[6] all his negotiations with Stolypin after the dissolution of the First Duma were in fact the carrying-out of the meanest and dirtiest political business, arranging how most reliably, craftily, and art fully, how most solidly within and least noticeably without to defend the rights of the aristocratic Russian nobility to the blood and sweat of the millions of “muzhiks”,. who have always and incessantly been robbed by these Heydens, before 1861, during 1861, after 1861, and after 1905.

In their time Nekrasov and Saltykov taught Russian society to see through the outward gloss and varnish of the feudal landlord’s education the predatory interests that lay beneath it; they taught it to hate the hypocrisy and callousness of such types. Yet the modern Russian intellectual, who imagines himself to be the guardian of the democratic heritage, and who belongs to the Cadet Party[1] or to the Cadet yes-men, teaches the people grovelling servility and delights in his impartiality as a non-party democrat.   A spectacle almost more revolting than that offered by the feats of Dubasov and Stolypin....

Heyden was a ‘man’"—exclaims the drawing-room democrat with enthusiasm. “Heyden was humane.”

This sentimentalising over Heyden’s humaneness reminds us not only of Nekrasov and Saltykov, but also of Turgenev in his A Hunter’s Sketches. Here we find depicted a civilised educated landlord, a cultured man with a European polish well versed in the social graces. The landlord is treating his guest with wine and conversing on lofty themes. “Why hasn’t the wine been warmed?”—he asks the lackey. The lackey turns pale and does not answer. The landlord rings, and when the servant enters, he says, without raising his voice, “About Fyodor... make the necessary arrangements.”

Here you have an example of Heyden-like “humaneness”, or humaneness à la Heyden. Turgenev’s landlord[7] is “humane” too, ... so humane, compared with Saltychikha,[8] for instance, that he does not go to the stables in person to see that it has been arranged for Fyodor to be flogged. He is so humane that he does not see to it that the birch with which Fyodor is to be flogged has been soaked in salt water. He would never think of hitting or scolding .a lackey, would this landlord; he only “arranges things” from a distance, like the educated man he is, in a gentle and humane manner, without noise, without fuss, without making a “public scene” ....

Heyden’s humaneness was of exactly the same kind. He himself did not join the Luzhenovskys and Filonovs in flogging and maltreating the peasants. He did not join the Rennenkampfs and Meller-Zakomelskys in their punitive expeditions.[9] He did not join Dubasov in his Moscow shootings. So humane was he that he refrained from such actions, leaving all the “arrangements” to these heroes of the national “stable” and controlling from his peaceful and cultured study the political party which supported the government of the Dubasovs and whose leaders drank the health of the conqueror of Moscow, Dubasov.... Was it not indeed humane to send the Dubasovs “to arrange about Fyodor” instead of going to the stables himself? To the old women who run the political department of our liberal and   democratic press, this is a model of humaneness. “He had a heart of gold, he wouldn’t hurt a fly!” “A rare and happy lot”—to support the Dubasovs, to enjoy the fruits of the vengeance wreaked by the Dubasovs, and not to be held responsible for the Dubasovs.

The drawing-room democrat considers it the height of democracy to sigh over the fact that we are not being governed by the Heydens (for it never enters the head of this drawing-room simpleton that there is a “natural” division of labour between the Heydens and the Dubasovs). Listen to this:

“...and how sad that he [Heyden][2] has died now, when he would have been most useful. He would now have fought the extreme Right, revealing the finest aspects of his soul and defending constitutional principles with all the energy and fertility of mind natural to him.” (Tovarishch, No. 299, Friday, June 22, “In Memory of Count Heyden”, a letter from Pskov Gubernia.)

How sad that the educated and humane Heyden, the peaceful renovator, is not here to cloak with his constitutional phrase-mongering the nakedness of the Third, Octobrist Duma, the nakedness of the autocracy which is destroying the Duma! It is the aim of the “democratic” journalist not to tear off the false cloak, not to show up to the people their oppressor enemies in all their nakedness, but to regret the absence of the experienced hypocrites who adorn the ranks of the Octobrists.... Was ist der Philister? Em hohler Darm, voll Furcht und Hoffnung, dass Gott erbarm! What is a philistine? A hollow gut, full of fear and hope that God will have mercy![10] What is the Russian liberal-democratic philistine of the Cadet and near-Cadet camp? A hollow gut, full of fear and hope that the counter-revolutionary landlord will have mercy!

June 1907


[1] The Cadets have shown themselves a hundred times more servile in their appreciation of Heyden than the gentlemen of Tovarishch. We took the latter as a specimen of the “democracy” of the “decent people” of Russian “society”. —Lenin

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

[3] The article “In Memory of Count Heyden” was published in the Bolshevik symposium Voice of Life (St. Petersburg, 1907) with the following editorial note: “Written in June, immediately after the appearance of Tovarishch’s panegyric, this article, owing to circumstances ‘beyond the control’ of the author, was not published at the time. In now including it in this volume, the editors believe, that it has lost none of its significance today, although the occasion that prompted it is now a matter of the past.”

Circumstances “beyond the control” of the author was a term usually applied to obstacles on the part of the police and the censorship. In this case it was to be understood, in addition, that the Bolshevik symposium was the only publication in which Lenin’s article could be published at that time. The article was unsigned, but in the table of contents the author’s initials “N. L.” were given.

[4] Russkiye Vedomosti (Russian Recorder)—a daily newspaper published in Moscow since 1863 by liberal professors of Moscow University and Zemstvo personalities; it expressed the views of the liberal landlords and bourgeoisie. In 1905, it became the organ of the Right Cadets. After the October Revolution (1917) it was closed down.

[5] This refers to the All-Russian political strike in October 1905, when the revolutionary crisis was coming to a head.

[6] Peaceful renovationism—the “Party of Peaceful Renovation” was a counter-revolutionary organisation of the landlords and bourgeoisie. It was formed in 1906, uniting the Left Octobrists and Right Cadets. Lenin called the “Party of Peaceful Renovation” the “Party of Peaceful Plunder”.

[7] This refers to the landlord Penochkin in Turgenev’s story The Village Elder.

[8] Saltychikha (Darya Ivanovna Saltykova, 1730-1801)—a landowner, famous for her brutal treatment of her serfs.

[9] Rennenkampf and Meller-Zakomelsky—tsarist generals, known for their harsh suppression of the revolutionary movement.

[10] " Lenin quotes Goethe’s definition of a philistine (Goethe, Werke. Neue Ausgabe. Zweiter Band, Berlin, 1893, S. 593).

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