V. I. Lenin

The Campaign Against Finland

Published: Sotsial-Demokrat No. 13, April 26 (May 9), 1910. Published according to the text in Sotsial-Demokrat.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1974], Moscow, Volume 16, pages 171-175.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

On March 17, 1910 Stolypin introduced a Bill to the State Duma “On the Procedure of Promulgating Laws and General State Ordinances Concerning Finland”. This official bureaucratic heading conceals a most brazen campaign of the autocracy against the freedom and independence of Finland.

Stolypin’s Bill is concerned with placing under the jurisdiction of the State Duma, the Council of State and Nicholas II all those Finnish affairs which “relate not merely to the internal affairs of this territory”. The Finnish Diet is only allowed to tender its “conclusions” on these affairs, and these conclusions are not binding upon anyone whatsoever: in its relation to The empire the Finnish Diet is to be reduced to the status of a Bulygin Duma.

What is meant here by “laws and ordinances which relate not merely to the internal affairs” of Finland? Without citing the whole list, which takes up 17 clauses in Stolypin’s Bill, we may mention that it includes, the customs relations between Finland and other parts of the empire, deletions from the Finnish criminal code, the railways, the monetary system in Finland, rules on public meetings, the press laws in Finland and other things.

To put all such questions under the jurisdiction of the arch-reactionary Octobrist Duma! The utter destruction of Finland’s freedom—that is what is being undertaken by the autocracy, which is counting on the support of the representatives of the landed proprietors and the top section of the merchants, who are united by the constitution of the Third of June.

The plan is foolproof, of course, as far as it concerns only those whose position is legal under this “constitution”: fifty   extreme Rights, a hundred nationalists and “Right Octobrists”, a hundred and twenty-five Octobrists—such is the black-hand gang which has already mustered in the Duma and has been suitably prepared by the long continued incitements of the government press to ensure the adoption of any measure of violence against Finland.

The old nationalism of the autocracy, which suppressed all “non-Russian races”, has now been reinforced, firstly by the hatred of all the counter-revolutionary elements towards a people which managed to utilise the brief victory of the proletariat of Russia in October to create under the very nose of the Black-Hundred tsar one of the roost democratic constitutions in the world, and to create free conditions for the organisation of the working masses of Finland, the staunch supporters of Social-Democracy. Finland took advantage of the Russian revolution to secure a few years of freedom and peaceful development. The counter-revolution in Russia is making haste to utilise the complete lull “at home” to take away as much as possible of Finland’s gains.

History, as it were, is demonstrating by the example of Finland that the famous “peaceful” progress, so idolised by all philistines, is just one of those brief, unstable, ephemeral exceptions which conclusively prove the rule. And this rule is that only the revolutionary movement of the masses and of the proletariat at their head, only a victorious revolution, can make lasting changes in the life of peoples and seriously undermine medieval rule and semi-Asiatic forms of capitalism.

Finland could only breathe freely when the working class of Russia rose in a gigantic mass and gave a shock to the Russian autocracy. And it is only by joining the revolutionary struggle of the masses in Russia that the Finnish worker can now seek the way to deliverance from the onslaught of the Black-Hundred bashi-bazouks.

The bourgeoisie of Finland has shown its counter-revolutionary qualities even in this peaceful country, which accomplished a revolution at the expense of the October days in Russia, which upheld liberty under the wing of the December struggle and the two oppositional Dumas in Russia. Bourgeois Finland persecuted the Red Guard of the Finnish workers and accused them of revolutionism; it did everything   in its power to prevent the full freedom of the socialist organisations in Finland; it thought to escape violence at the hands of tsarism by compliance (such as the surrender of political offenders in 1907); it accused the socialists of its own country of having been corrupted by the Russian socialists, infected with their revolutionary spirit.

In Finland now the bourgeoisie too can see the fruits of the policy of concessions, compliance and “flunkeyism”, the policy of directly or indirectly betraying the socialists. Apart from the struggle of the masses, schooled in a socialist way and organised by socialists, the Finnish people will find no escape from their plight: apart from proletarian revolution there is no way of repulsing Nicholas II.

Another thing that reinforces the old nationalism as the policy of our autocracy is the growing class-consciousness and consciously counter-revolutionary attitude of our Russian bourgeoisie. Chauvinism has grown among them with their growing hatred of the proletariat as an international force. Their chauvinism has grown stronger parallel with the growth and intensification of the rivalry of international capital. Chauvinism appeared as a thirst for revenge engendered by the losing of the war with Japan and the powerlessness of the bourgeoisie against the privileged landlords. Chauvinism has found support in the appetites of the true Russian industrialists and merchants who are glad to “conquer” Finland after failing to grab a slice of the pie in the Balkans. Therefore, the representative assembly of the land lords and big bourgeoisie gives tsarism true allies for settling with free Finland.

But if the basis of counter-revolutionary “operations” over the free border province has become wider, so has the basis for repelling these operations. If instead of the bureaucracy alone and a handful of magnates we have the landed nobility and the wealthiest merchants organised in the Third Duma on the side of the enemies of Finland, we have on the side of her friends those millions of common people who created the movement of 1905, who produced the revolutionary wing in both the First Duma and the Second. And however profound the political lull at the present moment these masses of people are alive and are growing in spite of everything. So too is growing a new avenger of the new defeat   of the Russian revolution, for the defeat of Finland’s freedom is a defeat of the Russian revolution.

Our Russian liberal bourgeoisie is also being exposed now—over and over again—in all its pusillanimity and spinelessness. The Cadets, of course, are against the persecution of Finland. They will certainly not vote with the Octobrists. But was it not they who did most of all to under mine the sympathy of the “public” for that direct revolutionary struggle, those “tactics” of October and December which alone made possible the birth of Finland’s freedom?—enabled it to hold out for more than four years now? Was it not the Cadets who rallied the Russian bourgeois intelligentsia to repudiate this struggle and these tactics? Was it not the Cadets who did their utmost to rouse nationalist feelings and sentiments throughout Russian educated “society"?

How right the Social-Democratic resolution (of December i908) was in saying that the Cadets by their nationalist agitation were in fact rendering a service to tsarism and no one else!{1} The “opposition” which the Cadets wanted to show the autocracy over Russia’s diplomatic reverses in the Balkans proved—as was only to be expected—a miserable, unprincipled, lackey-like opposition, which flattered the Black Hundreds, whetted the appetites of the Black Hundreds, and reproved the Black-Hundred tsar because he, the Black-Hundred tsar, was not strong enough.

So now, most “humane” gentlemen of the Cadet Party, reap what you have sown. You have convinced tsarism that it is weak in its stand for “national” interests; now tsarism is showing you its strength in nationalist persecution of a non-Russian race. Your nationalism, neo-Slavism, etc., had a selfish bourgeois essence of a narrow class nature wrapped in high-sounding liberal phrases. The phrases have remained phrases, while the essence has furthered the misanthropic policy of the autocracy.

Thus it has always been, and always will be, with liberal phrases. They merely screen the narrow egotism and brutal violence of the bourgeoisie; they are only artificial flowers festooning the peoples’ chains; they only stupefy the minds of the people, preventing them from recognising their real enemy.

But each act of tsarist policy, each month of the existence of the Third Duma is more and more mercilessly destroying the liberal illusions, more and more exposing the impotence and rottenness of liberalism, scattering ever wider and more abundantly the seeds of a new revolution of the proletariat.

A time will come—the Russian proletariat will rise for the freedom of Finland, for a democratic republic in Russia.


{1} See the resolution “The Present Moment and the Tasks of the Party” adopted by the Fifth (All-Russian 1908) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. (The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, 7th Russian ed., Part 1, 1953, pp. 195–97).

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