V. I.   Lenin

The Terms of the Deal

Written: March 21, 1907
Published: Proletary, No. 15, March 25, 1907. Published according to the Proletary text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 244-248.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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St. Petersburg, March 21, 1907.

The situation has undergone considerable change since the leading article in Proletary, No. 14,[1] was written three weeks ago. The government and the Cadets, the Black Hundred autocracy and the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie have taken a step towards one another, and are preparing to join hands and strangle the revolution by their joint efforts and, instead of land and freedom, hand out miserly doles to the people, condemning them to an existence of semi-starvation and semi-slavery. Let us examine more closely the situation now obtaining.

Two questions lie as heavy as a stone on the heart of the Black-Hundred autocracy—the budget, and the agrarian question. There can be no credits unless the budget is approved by the Duma. There can be no hope of even a brief period of calm unless the open ulcer of the land question is hidden, at least for the time being. The government will not dare dissolve the Duma without a budget and an agrarian law the latter has approved. The government is afraid to dissolve the Duma and, at the same time, is vociferating about dissolution and is putting into motion the entire Black-Hundred machinery of the Union of the Russian People so as to scare the timid and incline the wavering to compliance. It wants to try and drag concessions out of the Duma by gagging it with the threat of dissolution. Well, then it will see what is to be done with the disgraced, befouled and filth-bespattered “lofty” assembly. This explains the request to approve the budget and the   assurances that the Minister of Finance does not even dream of requesting the State Duma to sanction a loan. This ex plains the correct tone of Mr. Vasilchikov’s speeches to the effect that the government “will preserve the inviolability of those boundaries at which the interests of individuals, different groups and different social-estates meet” but, at the same time, “recognises its duty to extend that preservation only insofar as the boundaries mentioned coincide with the general interests of the state. Wherever the boundaries do not coincide with those interests they must be shifted”. In these words, especially those we have stressed, there is undoubtedly a scarcely perceptible nod of the head in the direction of the Cadets, a slight hint at the possibility of Cadet “compulsory alienation”.

How do the Cadets respond to all these scarcely perceptible advances? Oh, they are bending all their efforts to make the imperceptible perceptible, to make open and stated in full that which is hidden behind mysterious hints and reservations. They are therefore making incomparably more advances to the government, are opening up their hearts, although, with their customary caution, they are holding out their hands timidly and only half-way, in order to take hold of Mr. Stolypin’s forefinger, condescendingly held out to them. In its March 18 issue, Rech, the Cadets’ mouthpiece, proclaimed to the whole world that the “party of people’s freedom” is concluding preparation of a new agrarian bill which will make this party “the best-armed for a business-like discussion of the land question”, and that “the new presentation of the question has paid greater attention to what is generally known as the real alignment of forces”. At the next day’s session of the Duma, Deputy Kutler pronounced a truly “business-like” speech, in which he somewhat (though far from fully) raised the veil that has so far modestly covered the “realism” and “business-like character” of this new outcome of the Cadet Party’s legislative efforts. In the present case, as far as can be understood, business-like realism boils down to, first of all, giving the peasants in many localities, instead of the “subsistence standard”[2] of land, a much smaller amount—"as   much as is available”, as Mr. Kutler very indefinitely puts it. Apparently it works out this way—that many millions of dessiatines of landowners’ property may remain unalienated even under “compulsory alienation”. This means “shifting the boundaries somewhat”, as Mr. Vasilchikov puts it. The second feature typifying the “realism” of the new bill is outlined by Mr. Kutler in the following terms: “the lands that are to be transferred to the peasants” must “be made the absolute property of the peasants” so that “these lands will not under any circumstances by taken from them in the future”, they will be “transferred to the peasants for their use in perpetuity and not temporarily”, and in so doing it will be necessary “to limit only the right of alienation and of mortgage”. All this again comes very close to the “intention” of the government, proclaimed through its mouthpiece, Mr. Vasilchikov, “to extend the advantages, accruing from the principles of property, to that tremendous area of peasant-owned land that has so far been deprived of those advantages”. And, lastly, the third sign of the “business-like nature” of the new Cadet agrarian bill deserves special attention: formerly it was assumed that compensation for the land would be met by the Treasury, but now “a certain part of the expenses that occur as a result of the land reform must be met by the peasants themselves, to the extent of about one half”. And in what way does this differ from the contribution of one half of the land redemption payments to be met by the peasants that was established by the government for 1906? The concord, in principle, between the Cadet agrarian bill and the “designs” of the government therefore becomes fairly obvious. The fact that the Cadet compulsory alienation of the land is pure fiction makes it still less open to doubt; who will do the “compelling” in the Cadet land committees when they will consist half of peasants and half of land lords, with government officials “reconciling” their interests? A clean deal! Not for nothing did the Rech commentator on Duma affairs say on March 20, with reference to Mr. Vasilchikov’s speech: “this presentation of the question means that things are being tackled in business-like fashion”. This is, indeed, the highest praise from the lips of the Cadets of today!

As far as the budget is concerned, the conciliatory stand taken by the Cadets towards the Black-Hundred autocracy is outlined with sufficient clarity in an editorial in that same March 20 issue of Rech. The rumour that “the party of people’s freedom proposes rejecting the budget as a whole” is called “a patent lie”, and the assurance is given that the people’s representatives will probably approve, with certain changes, the budget for 1907” and, lastly—listen to this, gentlemen!—it is asserted that “if the Duma is given proof that the Minister of Finance is prepared to go half way extending its rights [within the bounds of the “fundamental laws”, of course—see above in the same article], this may engender among its members greater confidence in the government”, and, indeed, “if the Duma had grounds for trusting the Minister of Finance it could agree to a formula that would be tantamount to permission to borrow as much as is needed” (our italics). This is a gem that worthily concludes the long list of disgraceful concessions, all this retailing of people’s freedom—it had to be retail selling so that, in the end, the people’s freedom could be sold wholesale.

Anyone with the patience to follow up all the details of this shameful deal between the Black Hundreds and the liberal bourgeoisie, insofar as they have become clear at the present moment, can no longer be in doubt—the counter-revolutionary forces are being organised to deal a final, mortal blow at the great emancipation movement, to crush strong and bold fighters and to deceive and remove the naïve, the timid and the vacillating. The Rights, the Polish Kolo[3] and the Cadets are uniting in one body to deal that blow. The government is scaring the Cadets and the Trudoviks with the howling of the Black Hundreds— set at them by the government itself—who demand the dissolution of the Duma and the abolition of the “foul constitution”. The Cadets are scaring the Trudoviks by reference to those same howls and by alleging that Stolypin intends to dissolve the Duma immediately. The Black Hundred autocracy and the liberal bourgeoisie need all these threats and fears the better to come to an agreement behind the backs of the people, so that, having amicably shared the spoils, they may plunder the people. Trudoviks   of all shades—do not allow yourselves to be tricked! Stand guard over the interests of the people! Prevent this filthy deal between the Cadets and the government! Social-Democrat comrades! We are certain you will understand the situation, that you will stand at the head of all revolutionary elements in the Duma, that you will open the eyes of the Trudoviks to the shameful treachery of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie. We are sure that from the rostrum of the Duma you will loudly and boldly expose this treachery to the whole people.


[1] See pp. 184-88 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] See Note 98.—Tr.

[3] Polish Ko&lline;o (Circle)—an alliance of Polish deputies to the State Dumas. In the First and Second Dumas the Narodowci, members of the reactionary party of Polish landlords and bourgeoisie, formed the core of this alliance. In all the main questions of Duma tactics, the Ko&lline;o supported the Octobrists.

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