Proletary, No. 25, March (25) 12, 1908.
Published according to the text in Proletary.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 13, pages 479-484.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The Duma’s “big parliamentary day” of February 27 has evoked a touchingly unanimous appreciation from our bourgeois parties. All are pleased, all are elated and deeply moved, from the Black Hundreds and Novoye Vremya to the Cadets and Stolichnaya Pochta, which managed “on the eve of death”, to write (in its issue for February 28):
“The general impression [of the Duma session of February 27] was a very good one.”... “For the first time in Russian socio-political life the government has openly given its views to the country on questions of foreign policy.”...
We too are prepared to admit that the big parliamentary day has very strikingly, if not “for the first time”, revealed the deep unanimity of the Black Hundreds, the government. the liberals, and the “democrats” of the Stolichnaya Pochta brand, a unanimity on the cardinal questions of “socio political life”. Therefore, all attentive examination of the stand taken that day and in connection with that day by all the parties seems to us absolutely necessary.
The leader of the Octobrist government party is Mr. Guchkov. He addresses “a request to the government spokesmen” to explain the true state of affairs in the Far East. He ex plains from the eminence of the Duma rostrum the importance of cutting down expenditure—50,000 rubles per annum, say, to the Ambassador in Tokio instead of 60,000. We are making reforms, so don’t laugh! He says that disturbing reports about Far-Eastern policy and the threat of war with Japan “have found their way into the press”. Naturally, the leader of the capitalists says nothing about the Russian press being muzzled—why should he? Freedom of the press can be left as an item in the programme. That is essential for a “European” party. But as to actually fighting against the gagging of the press, openly exposing the notorious venality of t.he influential organs of the Russian press—it would be ludicrous to expect that of Mr. Guchkov or of Mr. Milyukov. On the other hand, Mr. Guchkov did tell the truth about the connection between domestic and foreign policy, that is, he blurted out the true motives for the comic scene which the Duma enacted on February 27.
“The fact,” lie announced, “that we are moving swiftly towards pacification and tranquillisation should show our opponents that the attempts [by Russia] to defend her interests will this time definitely succeed.” The Black Hundreds and Octobrists applaud. Of course! They, if anybody, understood only too well from the very beginning that the crux of the question under discussion and of the government’s solemn declaration made through the medium of Mr. Izvolsky lay in proclaiming the counter-revolutionary policy of our Muravyov-hangmen to be a matter of pacification and tranquillisation. Europe and the whole world had to be shown that the “external enemy” was confronted by a “united Russia”, which was pacifying and tranquillising a handful of rebels (a mere hundred million or so of peasants and workers!) to ensure the success of the “attempts to defend her interests”.
Yes, Mr. Guchkov managed to say what he wanted to say, what the combined landlords and capitalists wanted him to say.
Professor Kapustin, a “Left” Octobrist, the hope of the Cadets and mainstay of the advocates of peace between society and the authorities, hastened to follow in the footsteps of Guchkov, whose policy he seasoned with unctuous liberal hypocrisy. “God grant that the fame [the Duma’s] of our saving public money becomes widespread.” Fifty thousand a year for an ambassador—is that not a saving of a clear ten thousand rubles? Is that not a “splendid example” which will be “set by our highest dignitaries, who are alive to the grave and distressing moment which Russia is living through”?... “We are faced with the prospect of drastic reforms in the most diverse spheres of our country’s life, and large funds are needed for that purpose.”
Judas Golovlyov falls far short in comparison with this parliamentarian! A professor at the Duma rostrum going into raptures over the splendid example set by the highest dignitaries.... But why talk of an Octobrist when the liberals and bourgeois democrats are not far removed from this toadyism.
Let us pass to the speech made by Mr. Izvolsky, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. All he needed, of course, was a peg of the kind which Kapustin so obligingly offered. And the Minister dilated on the need for retrenchment—or for re vising the staff lists in order to help ambassadors “who have no independent means”. Izvolsky stressed that he was speaking with the permission of Nicholas II, and sang praises to “the strength, intelligence, and patriotism of the Russian people”, who would “exert all their energies, both material and spiritual, for consolidating Russia’s present Asiatic possessions and developing them to the utmost”.
The Minister said what the camarilla told him to say. Then Mr. Milyukov, the leader of the opposition, spoke. He declared straightaway: “The Party of People’s Freedom, represented by the Duma group present here, has listened to the words of the Foreign Minister with profound satisfaction, and considers it its duty to applaud his first public statement made before the country’s representative assembly clarifying questions concerning Russian foreign policy. Without a doubt, at the present moment... the Russian Government needs ... to have the backing of Russian public opinion for its views.”
Indeed, there is no doubt about that at all. For their intention, the government of the counter-revolution needs the backing of what abroad could be taken for (or be passed off as) Russian public opinion. This is particularly necessary in order to receive a loan, without which the whole Stolypin policy of tsarism, planned with a view to long-range measures of systematic and mass violence against the people, is faced with the threat of bankruptcy and ruin.
Mr. Milyukov quite understood the true significance of this ceremonial entrance of Izvolsky, Guchkov, and Co. This entrance was arranged by the Black-Hundred gang &f Nicholas II. Every little detail of this police-patriotic demonstration was planned in advance. The Duma puppets enacted a comedy, dancing to the tune of the autocratic camarilla, for without the support of the West-European bourgeoisie Nicholas II could not hold out. The entire Russian bourgeoisie, Left as well as Right, had to be made to formally express its confidence in the government, in its “peaceful policy”, its stability, its intentions and ability to pacify and tranquillise. It was necessary as the blank endorsement of a bill. For that purpose, Mr. Izvolsky was brought into play as being most “pleasing” to the Cadets; for that purpose all that impudent hypocrisy was organised about the saving of public money, about reforms, and the government’s “public” statement “clarifying” its foreign policy, although it was clear to one and all that it clarified nothing and that there was no intention that it should clarify anything.
As for the liberal opposition, they dutifully fulfilled the role of puppets in the hands of the Black-Hundred-police monarchy! At a time when an explicit statement of the truth by the Duma bourgeois minority would undoubtedly have played an important role and have prevented (or hindered) the government from borrowing thousands of millions for new punitive expeditions, gallows, prisons, and intensified security measures, the party of the Cadets “prostrated them selves” before the adored monarch in an effort to ingratiate themselves. Mr. Milyukov curried favour by trying to prove his patriotism. He posed as an expert on foreign policy, on the basis of having obtained information in some antechamber about Izvolsky’s liberal views. Mr. Milyukov deliberately endorsed the bill by solemnly “applauding” the tsarist minister on behalf of the whole Cadet Party, knowing full well that on the very next day all the European newspapers would declare, as if under orders: The Duma has unanimously (not counting the Social-Democrats) expressed confidence in the government, has approved its foreign policy....
In three years Russian liberalism has gone through an evolution which, in Germany, took over thirty years, and in France over a hundred—an evolution from adherents of freedom to spineless and contemptible henchmen of absolutism. The specific weapon of struggle which the bourgeoisie possesses—the possibility of putting pressure on the purse, of withholding funds, of upsetting the “delicate” approaches for new loans—this weapon could have been used by the Cadets many times during the Russian revolution. And on each occasion, in the spring of 1908 just as in the spring of 1906, they surrendered their weapon to the enemy, licking the hand of the pogrom-makers and swearing loyalty to them.
Mr. Struve took care in good time to put this practice on a firm theoretical basis. In the magazine Russkaya Mysl, which should really be called Black-Hundred Mysl, Mr. Struve already advocates the idea of a “Great Russia”, the idea of bourgeois nationalism; he attacks “the intelligentsia’s hostility to the state”, for the thousandth time striking out at “Russian revolutionism”, “Marxism”, “renegades”, the “class struggle”, and “banal radicalism”.
We can only rejoice at this evolution in the ideology of Russian liberalism, for in fact it has already shown itself in the Russian revolution to be exactly what Mr. Struve has been trying systematically, wholeheartedly, deliberately and “philosophically” to make it. The elaboration of a consistent counter-revolutionary ideology is the key when there is a fully developed class that has acted in a counter-revolutionary manner at crucial periods in the country’s life. The ideology conforming to the class position and the class policy of the bourgeoisie will help all and everyone to discard their last vestiges of faith in the “democratism” of the Cadets. And it will do good to discard them. They need to be discarded to enable us to make progress in regard to the really mass struggle for the democratisation of Russia. Mr. Struve wants a frankly counter-revolutionary liberalism. We want it, too, because this “frankness” of liberalism will best of all enlighten both the democratic peasantry and the socialist proletariat.
Reverting to the Duma session of February 27, it should be said that the only honest and proud word of a democrat came from a Social-Democrat. Deputy Chkheidze took the floor and declared that the Social-Democratic group would vote against the Bill. He started to give the reasons, but after his first words: “Our diplomacy in the West has always been a bulwark of reaction and served the interests of ..." the Chairman stopped the mouth of the workers’ deputy. "The instructions allow a member to give his reasons for voting,” muttered the Cadets. “Besides reasons there is such a thing as form,” answered the bandit who calls himself Chairman of the Third Duma.
He was right from his point of view: who cares about instructions when the successful staging of the police-sponsored, patriotic demonstration was at stake.
The workers’ deputy stood isolated on this question. This is all the more to his credit. The proletariat should show, and it will show, that it is capable of defending the behests of the democratic revolution despite all the treacheries of liberalism and the waverings of the petty bourgeoisie.
 Muravyov, M. N. (1796-1866)—a reactionary statesman of tsarist Russia. In the capacity of Governor-General of Vilna, Muravyov crushed the insurrection of 1863 in Poland, Lithuania, and Byelorussia with great cruelty, for which he earned the name of “hangman”. .
 Judas Golovlyov—a type of sanctimonious, hypocritical landlord serf-owner described in Saltykov-Shchedrin’s The Golovlyov Family.
 Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought)—a monthly magazine of the liberal bourgeoisie, published in Moscow from 1880 to the middle of 1918. After the revolution of 1905 it became the organ of the Right wing of the Cadet Party.