V. I.   Lenin

The Cuckoo Praises the Rooster[1]

Written: Written on March 28 (April 10), 1907,
Published: Published on March 29, 1907, in the newspaper Nashe Ekho, No. 4. Published according to the newspaper text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 312-315.
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 Cadets praise Novoye Vremya. The Novoye Vremya crew praise the Cadets. The “people’s freedom” party is pleased with the minister’s concluding speech on the budget, This party, which is always pleased with all ministers, is now pleased with the consent of the Cadets, as leaders of the Duma “Centre”, to approve the budget of the Duma-dissolving ministry.

“If it were necessary to prove that the general discussion on the budget in the State Duma had not been fruitless,” Rech (March 28) pompously opens its editorial, “the finance minister’s concluding speech would be a most brilliant proof of it.”

What is that brilliant proof?

The proof is—“not a shadow had remained” of the minister’s former “arrogantly didactic and irritably ironical tone”.... The minister’s reply was correct in form, and in content it revealed “a tribute of respect for the power of Duma criticism”; the minister mollified the Duma with the assurance that it had greater rights than it had seemed to have; he paid compliments to the “people’s freedom” party, compliments which “the overwhelming majority of the Duma deserved for its subsequent voting” (for agreeing to send the budget to a commission).

Yes, indeed, these are the Cadets’ brilliant proofs of the non-fruitlessness” of the Duma debates. The fruit does not consist in the faintest trace of serious improvement in the real state of affairs. Nor is it that the masses of the people   have learned something and understood certain aims concealed behind the constitutional tinsel. Nothing of the sort. The fruit consists in the minister having become more decent, more obliging; he is more obliging to those who, in the name of “the people’s representation’s, consent to all sort of compromises.

The liberals consent to prostitute the people’s representation to underpin the foundations of Black-Hundred rule. On these terms, the government of Stolypin & Co. consents not to dissolve the Duma (for the time being...). Both sides are filled with joy and mutual admiration.

Today’s Novoye Vremya, while missing no opportunity to revile the Cadets for the “Jewish” composition of the commission on religious faiths, at the same time publishes a long dissertation by its Duma reporter on the reasons for its being inadvisable to dissolve the Duma. “Even from the standpoint of the extreme Right, it would be inexpedient and harmful to dissolve the Duma at the present moment.” The election law cannot be changed without a coup d’état, and if a new Duma is elected in accordance with the existing election law it is possible that “we may lose the present Centre of the Second State Duma”. According to the Novoye Vremya reporter, that Centre “begins at the Octobrists and stretches through the Party of Peaceful Renovation, the non-party deputies, the Poles and Cadets, as far as the Trudoviks”. “Undoubtedly the present Centre holds a strictly constitutional-monarchist viewpoint and has, up to now, made every effort to engage in organic work. In any case we shall be deprived 01 that Centre [if the Second Duma is dissolved]. We shall be deprived, there lore, of a budget approved by the Duma, for I assume it to be beyond all measure of doubt that the budget introduced by the ministry—with a few insignificant [mark this!] changes—will be adopted by the Second Duma.”

That is what Novoye Vremya says. The argument is extraordinarily clear. It is an excellent exposition of the point of view of the extreme Rights, who at the same time now wish to save the Duma.

In the upper circles of the ruling oligarchy there is a struggle between two tendencies—one that wants the Duma dissolved and the other that would preserve it for the time   being. The first of these policies is one that Novoye Vremya has long since evolved, explained, defended and, from time to time—or rather at all times—still continues to defend. The ruling oligarchy, however, has another policy. There will always be time to dissolve the Duma, and if it approves the budget it may be easier to obtain a loan. And so it is more advantageous to wait. The threat of dissolution remains, and “we” shall keep the pressure of this threat constantly on the Cadets, which will force them, in a way obvious to everybody, to shift to the Right.

The latter policy is undoubtedly more subtle, and better from the standpoint of the reactionary landlords’ interests. The former policy is crude, coarse and hasty. The latter is better planned because the dissolution is “held in reserve”, while the liberals are being used by the government. For the Duma to approve the budget is almost equivalent to consenting to endorse a bill of exchange for a bankrupt. It is more expedient to get both the bill extended for a further term and the Duma dissolved, than to dissolve the Duma at once without attempting to get the bill extended.

Apart from the approval of the budget there may, of course, be other similar bills of exchange. Have not the Cadets, from the landlords’ standpoint, already improved their agrarian bill? Let that bill pass through the Duma; then let it go to the Council of State for consideration and further improvement. If “we” dissolve the Duma at that moment, we shall have two, and not one, endorsed bills of exchange. “We” shall possibly be able to obtain from Europe, not one thousand, but two thousand million. One thousand million in the event of the State Duma approving the budget, i.e., on the basis of “a state economy that has passed through the fire of a strictly constitutional test”. The other thousand million in the event of a “great agrarian reform passing through the fire of the strictly constitutional creative activities of popular representative body”.

The Council of State will make Slight corrections to the Cadet agrarian bill, a bill that is already overflowing with the most diffuse phrases that define nothing. In actual fact everything depends on the composition of the local land committees. The Cadets are against the election of these committees by universal, direct, equal and secret ballot.   The Cadets favour equal representation of landlords and peasants, with control by the government. The government and the landlords do not risk anything in adopting the basic idea of this superb liberal bill, for such committees, with the benevolent co-operation of the Council of State, Stolypin & Co., will no doubt, will most certainly, turn “compulsory alienation” of the landlords’ land into compulsory enslavement of the muzhik by means of new and ruinous compensation payments for the sand, swamps and tree-stumps set aside for them.

Such is the real significance of the government policy and the policy of the Cadets. By their treachery the liberals are helping the landlords put through a smart deal. If the peas ants—the “Trudoviks”—continue to follow in the wake of the liberals, despite the warnings of the Social-Democrats, the muzhik will inevitably be fooled by the landlord with the help of the liberal lawyers.


[1] From the fable by Ivan Krylov (1769-1844). The English equivalent is, roughly, a mutual admiration society.—Ed.

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