V. I.   Lenin

Cadets of the Second Generation

Published: Proletary, No. 30, May 10 (23), 1908. Published according to the text in Proletary.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1973, Moscow, Volume 15, pages 63-68.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The report from Russia printed in this issue under the heading of “News from the Intellectuals”, deserves the particular attention of the reader. Just before our paper appeared, we received confirmation of the facts about which our correspondent writes, and must dwell on them in greater detail.

A new political organisation is coming into existence. The social movement is taking a new turn. There is a grouping of elements among the bourgeois democrats who want to be “more left than the Cadets”, and who are attracting Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. It seems as though some dim realisation is breaking through that the Cadet opposition in the Third Duma is a decaying corpse, and that “something must be done” apart from it.

Such are the facts. They are anything but conspicuously definite as yet, but they already anticipate events that are understandable and inevitable from the standpoint of the lessons provided by the first three years of the revolution.

The Cadets of the first generation appeared on the open stage of the revolution in the spring of 1905. They have managed during this period of nearly three years to fade without ever having blossomed. Now they are being replaced by Cadets of the second generation. What is the meaning of this generation, and with what problems does it face the workers’ party?

The Cadets of the first generation made a noise at their banquets in 1904, carried on the Zemstvo campaign,[1] and expressed the beginnings of the social upswing at a time when relations between the various classes and the   autocracy, and among themselves, were still quite undetermined, i.e., up to the time when the open struggle of the masses and the policy of classes, not of little groups, deter mined those relations. The Cadets at that time grouped together all sorts of elements in bourgeois, so-called educated society, beginning with the landlord who was not so keen on a constitution as he was on getting a slice of cake for himself, and ending with the working, salaried intellectuals. The Cadets were preparing to act as mediators between the “historic authorities”, i.e., the tsarist autocracy, and the struggling masses of the working class and the peasantry. The deputation to the tsar in the summer of 1905 was the beginning of this toadyism—for the Russian-liberals understand no other form of mediation than toadyism. And since then there has literally not been a single, at all important, stage of the Russian revolution when the bourgeois liberals did not “mediate” by the same method of toadying to the autocracy and to the servants of the Black-Hundred landlord clique. In August 1905 they opposed the revolutionary tactics of boycotting the Bulygin Duma. In October 1905 they formed the openly counter-revolutionary party of the Octobrists, while at the same time sending Pyotr Struve into Witte’s ante-room and preaching moderation and accurate behaviour. In November 1905 they condemned the post and telegraph workers’ strike and voiced their condolences at the “horrors” of the soldiers’ revolts. In December 1905 they fearfully stuck close to Dubasov,[2] in order next day to hit out against (perhaps one ought to say, to take a kick at) “the madness”. At the beginning of 1906 they hotly defended themselves against the “shameful” suspicion that they were capable of campaigning abroad against the 1,000-million ruble loan to strength en the autocracy. In the First Duma the liberals mouthed phrases about the people’s freedom, while on the sly they ran to Trepov’s backdoor and fought the Trudoviks and the workers’ deputies. By the Vyborg Manifesto[3] they sought to kill two birds with one stone, manoeuvring in such a way that their behaviour could be interpreted, as the occasion required, either in the spirit of support of the revolution or in the spirit of fighting the revolution. Needless to speak of the Second and Third Dumas, where   the liberalism of the Cadets stood revealed in its true Octobrist colours.

During these three years the Cadets have done their job so thoroughly that attempts at a new revival are linked from the very outset with the slogan “more left than the Cadets"! The Cadets of the first generation have made themselves impossible. They have buried themselves by their continuous betrayal of the people’s freedom.

But are not the Cadets of the second generation, who are replacing those of the first, infected with the same poison of putrefaction? Are not the “Social-Cadets”, the Popular Socialist gentry, who are making a particular fuss around the new organisation, intending to repeat the old evolution of which we have had three years’ experience?

One has to answer this question not with guesses about the future but by analysis of the past. And this analysis irrefutably shows that the “Socialist-Revolutionary Mensheviks”, the Popular Socialist gentry, really did play the part of Cadets in that Trudovik, peasant political organisation—or to be more accurate, political movement—in which they were functioning in their “heydays”, for example in the period of the First Duma. Remember the main facts in the history of the “party” (group?) of Popular Socialists in the Russian revolution. They received their baptism in the Osvobozhdeniye League.[4] At the congress of the S.R. party in December 1905 they, wavering eternally between the Cadets and the S.R.s, took a stupid middle-of-the road stand, wishing to be both together with and separate from the Socialist-Revolutionaries. During the period of liberties in October they ran their political newspapers in a bloc with the S.R.s. And the same in the period of the First Duma —"high” diplomacy, “skilful” concealment of differences from the eyes of the world! After the dissolution of the First Duma, after the failure of the second wave of insurrections, after the suppression of the Sveaborg rising,[5] these gentlemen take their decision—to turn to the right. They “legalise” their party, for no other purpose, naturally, than to denounce the idea of insurrection quite legally in the press, and to prove the untimeliness of active republican propaganda. In face of the peasant deputies in the First Duma they win a   victory over the Socialist-Revolutionaries, collecting 104 signatures to their Land Bill[6] as against the 33 for the S.R. Bill.[7] The “sober” bourgeois aspirations of the peasant small proprietor for nationalisation of the land get the upper hand over the vagueness of “socialisation”. Instead of striving for the political and revolutionary organisation of the peasants, organisation for insurrection, we see the Social-Cadets striving to play at legality and parliamentarism, striving towards the parochialism of the intellectualist circles. The wavering of the Russian peasant between the Cadet arid the intellectualist Popular Socialist opportunist on the one hand, and the intellectually unsteadfast revolutionary S.R. on the other, reflects the dual position of the petty tiller of the soil, his incapacity for conducting a consistent class struggle without guidance by the proletariat.

And if today the Popular Socialist gentlemen are once again beginning their “affair” with the Left Cadets, dragging in their wake the slow-witted Mensheviks and S.R.s, this means that the whole lot of them have learned nothing during the three years of the revolution. They say that economic demands lead to disunity. They want to unite on the basis of more immediate demands—political demands. They have understood absolutely nothing in the course of the revolution, which in Russia, as in other countries, has demonstrated that only the mass struggle is strong, and that such a struggle can develop only in the name of serious economic changes.

That the Mensheviks and the S.R.s keep trailing after the Left Cadets is no news. This happened at the elections to the Second Duma in St. Petersburg. This happened on the question of a Cadet Ministry and a Duma with full powers, with some of them, and on the question of a secret bloc with the Popular Socialists with others. There are evidently profound reasons which rouse among the petty-bourgeois intellectuals “a passion akin to sickness”, a passion for coming under the wing of the liberal bourgeoisie.

They cover up this passion, of course, in the usual way— with speeches about making use of the revival, or new grouping of forces, and so forth.

To be sure, gentlemen, we also stand for making use... of a corpse— only not for its “revival”, but to fertilise the   soil with it; not to encourage rotten theories and philistine moods, but that it may play the part of "devil’s advocate”. We shall use this new, good, excellent example of the Popular Socialists and the Left Cadets to teach the people, to teach them what not to do, and how to avoid Cadet treachery and petty-bourgeois flabbiness. We shall closely follow the growth and development of this new little freak (if it is not still-born), hourly reminding people that every such foetus, if net still-born, inevitably and unavoidably signifies in present-day Russia the heralding of the mass struggle of the working class and the peasantry. The Osvobozhdeniye League is being reborn. If that is so, it means that the people at the top are beginning to anticipate something: and if that is so, it means that after the beginning will come the continuation, after the fussing of the intellectuals will come the proletarian struggle.

And it is the lessons of struggle, the lessons of revolutionary alignment only in struggle and only with the peasant masses fighting for revolution, that we shall teach the people, in connection with the appearance on the stage of the Cadets of the second generation.


[1] The Zemstvo campaign was conducted by bourgeois liberals, members of the Zemstvos, between the autumn of 1904 and January 1905. The campaign consisted of a series of conferences, public meetings and banquets at which speeches were made and resolutions passed in support of moderate constitutional demands.

[2] Dubasov, F. V.—Governor-General of Moscow who crushed the armed uprising of December 1905.

[3] The Vyborg Manifesto or “the Vyborg Appeal” was issued by members of the First Duma “To the people from the people’s representatives”. It was adopted on July 9-10 (22-23), 1906, at a meeting in Vyborg at which about 200 deputies, most of them Cadets, assembled after the dissolution of the First Duma. The appeal called upon the people to offer “passive resistance” to the government by refusing to pay taxes and furnish recruits until the tsar had announced new elections to the Duma. In September 1906 the Congress of the Cadet Party openly admitted that the use of “passive resistance” was “impracticable”.

[4] Osvobozhdeniye League— a liberal-monarchist organisation founded abroad by P. Struve in 1904. The Osvobozhdeniye people were supporters of a constitutional monarchy and endeavoured to strike a bargain with the tsarist government, concealing their struggle against the revolution under the false guise of democracy. Eventually they formed the core of the Cadet Party.

[5] The rising in the Sveaborg fortress (near Helsingfors), which started during the night of July 17-18 (30-31), 1906 broke out spontaneously and prematurely, being largely provoked by the Socialist-Revolutionaries. On receiving information about the situation in Sveaborg and the possibility of an armed uprising ,the St. Petersburg Commit tee of the R.S.D.L.P. decided on the urgent dispatch of a delegation to Sveaborg authorised to secure a postponement of the action or, if this could not be achieved, to take the most active p a r.t in leading the uprising. The text of the decision was written b V. I. Lenin. Finding it impossible to prevent spontaneous action,   the Bolsheviks headed the uprising. Its leaders were lieutenants A. P. Yemelyanov and Y. L. Kokhansky, members of the military organisation of the R.S.D.L.P. Seven of the ten artillery companies took an active part in the uprising. The insurgents put forward the slogans of overthrow of the autocracy, freedom for the people, and the transfer of the land to the peasants. The working class in Finland gave active support to the insurgents. On July 18 (31) a general strike was declared in Helsingfors, which eventually spread to other towns. The uprising lasted three days, but the general lack of preparation had its effect, and on July 20 (August 2), after the fortress a been subjected to a naval bombardment, the Sveaborg rising was crushed. Its participants were court-martialled, forty-three men being executed and some hundreds sentenced to penal servitude or imprisonment.

[6] The Land Bill of the 104 members of the Puma was introduced by the Trudoviks at the 13th session of the Duma on May 23 (June 5), 1906. The Bill made it the object of land legislation “to work towards the establishment of a system under which all the land with its mineral wealth and waters would belong to the whole people, the land needed for agriculture to be given over only to the use of those who cultivate it with their own labour” (The Duma in Russia. Documents & Materials, Russ. ed., Moscow, 1957, p. 172). For this purpose the demand was put forward for creating “a national distributable land fund” consisting of all state, crown, monastery and church lands. Landed estates and other privately-owned lands were to be forcibly alienated to this fund where the size of the respective holdings exceeded the labour standard established for the given locality. Certain compensation was allowed for alienated privately-owned lands. Allotment lands and small private holdings were to be retained for a time by their owners. The Bill also provided for the eventual gradual transfer of these lands to the national fund. The agrarian reform was to be carried out by local committees elected by democratic vote. These demands expressed the interests of the well-to-do peasants, who feared immediate and complete abolition of private ownership of the land and stood for compensation for alienated lands. Lenin remarked that the Bill of the 104 “is permeated with the small proprietor’s fear of being too radical, of drawing too large a mass of poor people into the movement” (see present edition, Vol. 11, p. 469). Despite its inconsistent and utopian character, the “Bill of the 104", as Lenin pointed out, was a platform of struggle for converting the well-to-do section of the enslaved peasantry into free farmers.

[7] Lenin has in mind the “Draft of the Fundamental Land Law” signed by 33 deputies (mostly Trudoviks) of the First Duma. This Bill was drafted with the help of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and expressed their views on agrarian question. The “Bill of the 33” demanded the immediate and complete abolition of private land ownership and proclaimed the equal right of all citizens to use the land and the principle of communal land tenure with equalised   reallotment on the basis of subsistence and labour norms. In comparison with other Bills of the Trudoviks, the “Bill of the 33” was more drastic in that it demanded the immediate abolition of private landownership and confiscation of the landed estates with out compensation.

Introduced into the Duma on June 6 (19), 1906, the “Bill of the 33” met with furious resistance on the part of the Cadets and was rejected by 140 votes to 78.

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