V. I.   Lenin

Cadets and Trudoviks[1]

Published: Rabochaya Molva, No. 1, March 1, 1907. Signed: N. L—n. Published according to the text in Rabochaya Molva.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 189-192.
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

In Russkaya Zhizn, No. 49, Comrade D. Koltsov repeats the usual Menshevik argument in favour of the policy of support for the Cadets. But he does it so forthrightly and naively that there really is nothing left to do but thank him for reducing an erroneous theory to the absurd.

“With whom have the Social-Democrats the greater number of points of contact,” he asks in his article “The Cadets and Bourgeois Democracy”, “with urban or rural democracy? From whom can Social-Democracy the sooner expect support in its struggle against cultural, religious, national and other prejudices? Who will the sooner support all measures likely to liberate the productive forces? It is only necessary to raise these questions, which are basic in Social-Democratic policy, for the answer to be clear of itself. Everything in the Communist Manifesto concerning the revolutionary role of the bourgeoisie remains as true in the twentieth century as it was in the nineteenth, as true for Russia as it was for England, ... etc. As far as rural democracy is concerned, it will in many cases defend old, outworn modes of production and social organisation, despite its revolutionary gallop.... When the Bolsheviks speak about the Cadets they forget the urban democracy that stands behind them; on the contrary, for them the Socialist-Revolutionary and Trudovik parliamentary group is the embodiment of the entire peasantry. This means that they cannot see the wood for the trees, cannot see the social interests of the broad masses of the people behind parliamentary representation.”

From the bottom of our heart we welcome this Menshevik turn to the study of the fundamental principles of our disagreement on tactics. It is high time.

And so the Cadets are the progressive urban bourgeoisie and the Trudoviks the backward rural bourgeoisie. This is what your “Marxism” amounts to.

If this is true, why do you not say so openly and directly to the whole Party? Why do you not announce, clearly and distinctly, in a draft resolution for the Party congress, that, in the name of the Communist Manifesto, the R.S.D.L.P. is duty bound to support the Cadets against the Trudoviks?

We should he very glad if you were to make this statement. We have been demanding it of you for a long time; we did so long before the Unity Congress, when we defined the class composition of the Constitutional-Democrats and Socialist-Revolutionaries in the, draft resolution on our attitude to the bourgeois parties, and invited you to give your definition.

How did you answer this challenge?

You evaded it. In your draft resolution for the Unity Congress there is no attempt to express the idea that the Constitutional-Democrats are the progressive urban democracy, arid the Trudoviks (Peasant Union, Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc.) the backward rural democracy. In your resolution for the Unity Congress on the attitude to the bourgeois parties there is only a repetition of the Amsterdam resolution,[2] a repetition that is peculiar on account of its indecisiveness.

Today we repeat the challenge. We have again raised the question of the Marxist definition of the class basis of the various bourgeois parties in Russia. We have published the appropriate draft resolution.

And we are certain that you will again refuse to accept the challenge. We are certain that you will not risk writing, in the draft of the official Menshevik resolution, that the Cadets are the progressive urban bourgeoisie and that they, to a greater extent than the Trudoviks, promote a policy of the free development of the productive forces, etc., etc.

Here is how matters stand:

The main economic problem in the present bourgeois revolution in Russia is that of the peasants’ struggle for land. This is a struggle inevitably brought about by the desperate position of the peasantry, the many survivals of serfdom in the Russian countryside, etc. The struggle   impels the peasant masses towards a decisive democratisation of political relations (for without the democratic reorganisation of the state the peasants cannot overcome the feudal-minded landlords) and towards the abolition of landed proprietorship.

For this very reason the Social-Democrats include confiscation of the landed estates in their programme. It is only the extreme opportunists among. Social-Democrats who are not in sympathy with this programme and defend the substitution of the word “alienation” for “confiscation”, although they are afraid to present such a draft openly.

The Cadets are a party of the liberal bourgeoisie, liberal landowners and bourgeois intelligentsia. If D. Koltsov has any doubts about the landowner colouring of the Cadets, we can point to two facts: (1) the composition of the Cadet group in the First Duma. Refer to Borodin’s[3] book, Comrade Koltsov, and you will see how many landlords there were there; (2) the Cadets’ draft agrarian programme is, in effect, a plan of the capitalist landlord. Land redemption payments, conversion of the peasant into a Knecht, and the formation of local land commissions of equal numbers of landlords and peasants with chairmen appointed by the government—all this shows as clearly as can be that Cadet policy in the agrarian question is one of retaining landed proprietorship by cleansing it of some of its feudal traits, and by the peasant’s ruination through redemption payments and his shackling by government officials. In this way the economic significance of Cadet agrarian politics amounts to a deceleration of the development of the productive forces.

The confiscation of landed estates and the complete victory of peasant democracy would, on the contrary, mean the most rapid development of the productive forces possible under capitalism.

In our draft resolutions for the Fifth Congress we give direct expression to this assessment of the economic significance of Cadet policy. Once more: please express your “Marxist theory” as clearly as this, Comrade D. Koltsov!

A comparison of the Cadet and Trudovik agrarian projects and their attitude to questions of political democracy (the law on assembly in the First Duma, the attitude to the various types of organisation for local agricultural committees,   the programmes of the Constitutional-Democratic Party and the Trudovik Group in the First Duma, and so on, and so forth), shows that the Cadets are a party of liberals, striving, and forced to strive, to halt the revolution by reconciling liberty with the old authorities (to the detriment of liberty) and the landlord with the peasant (to the detriment of the peasant). The Trudovik parties (the Popular Socialists, Trudoviks, and Socialist-Revolutionaries) are the urban and, particularly, the rural (i.e., peasant) petty bourgeois democracy, forced to strive for the further development of the revolution.

The victory of the revolution in Russia is possible only if the proletariat carries with it the democratic peasantry both against the old order and against the liberals.

This postulate, which determines the fundamentals of the Bolshevik tactics as a whole, was excellently confirmed by the entire experience of the First Duma and the post Duma period. Only by reducing our disputes to fundamentals shall we transform them from squabbles into the solution of the basic problems of the bourgeois revolution in Russia.

We therefore welcome the frankness and directness of Comrade Koltsov, and repeat our challenge: let the Mensheviks try to formulate these ideas concerning the Cadets and the Trudoviks, and express them clearly and unequivocally.


[1] Cadets and Trudoviks” was published on March 1, 1907, in Rabochaya Molva (Worker’s Word), No. 1, a Bolshevik legal political and literary newspaper, publication of which was begun in St. Petersburg. On the day the first issue appeared it was confiscated and its publication forbidden.

[2] Amsterdam resolution—Lenin refers here to “The International Rulings as to Socialist Action” adopted by the Amsterdam Congress of the Second International in August 1904.

The Amsterdam International Socialist Congress of the Second International was held from August 14 to August 20, 1904. The Congress agenda contained the following points: (1) the international rulings as to socialist action; (2) colonial policy; (3) the general strike; (4) social policy and the insurance of workers; (5) trusts and unemployment, and others.

The attitude to bourgeois parties was expressed in the resolution on “The International Rulings as to Socialist Action” which forbade socialists to participate in bourgeois governments, and condemned “all efforts to gloss over the existence of class contradictions in order to make a rapprochement with bourgeois parties easier”. Although it marked a step forward, the Congress resolution was only half-hearted, and as a whole was a further concession to opportunism. The Congress did not raise the question of the development of a mass general strike into an armed uprising, and did not oppose the Right opportunists, who justified the colonial policy of the imperialist states. In word the Congress condemned revisionism but did not, in its resolution, declare a break with opportunism, and was silent on the question of the proletarian revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat.

[3] Borodin’s bookThe State Duma in Figures, by N. A. Borodin, Deputy to the First State Duma, St. Petersburg, 1906. According to Borodin’s figures, of the 153 Cadets in the First Duma, 92 were of the nobility. Of these, 3 owned landed estates between 5,000 and 10,000 dessiatines; 8 owned estates from 2,000 to 5,000 dessiatines; 8 owned estates from 1,000 to 2,000 dessiatines and 30 owned estates from 500 to 1,000 dessiatines. Thus about one-third of the Cadet deputies were big landowners.

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