V. I.   Lenin

The Campaign for the Elections to the Fourth Duma



The Cadet Party, which, of all the so-called opposition parties is most favourably situated because of its legal status, has just taken an extremely important step by defining its policy in the election campaign. To judge by the evidence of sources sympathising with the Cadets and most accessible to us, its policy has been defined as follows:

1. The Cadets will put up their own candidates wherever they are sure of being elected.

2. Wherever a Cadet candidate cannot expect an absolute majority, the Cadets will support the progressive candidate likely to obtain the highest vote, irrespective of his party affiliation.

3. Where an opposition candidate has no chance at all, and there is the danger of the election of a Black-Hundred candidate, support may be given to the Octobrist candidate but only on condition that he is a genuine constitutionalist which, strange as it may seem, they occasionally are.

4. The Cadets will not enter into any election agreements with the Right Octobrists or with the Nationalists and monarchists. In general, while not forgetting the interests of the Party, they will not sacrifice to the latter the supreme interests of the opposition, in the broad sense of the term.

Such is Cadet policy. Working-class democracy must examine this policy with the greatest attention, analysing its true class substance and its real meaning, which are veiled in the usual conventional phrases. These phrases about “the higher interests of the opposition”, etc., are   the first to strike the eye when we read the Cadet resolutions. The fact of the matter, however, is that the policy of the Cadets has been fully and finally defined as the policy of a Cadet-Octobrist bloc. This fact must be understood, it is the grain that must be separated from the chaff of official liberal catchwords;

(1) Not a word about a bloc with the Lefts, with the democrats. (2) Only blocs with Right Octobrists are forbidden—with the Gololobov group,[3] who are an insignificant minority among the Octobrists. (3) In practice the phrase about “the higher interests of the opposition in the broad sense of the term” can only mean one thing: that as a general rule blocs with the Octobrists are actually permitted (and recommended!).

These three conclusions regarding the real policy of the Constitutional-Democratic Party must be firmly borne in mind.

What do they mean? They mean that the “Left Centre” of the bourgeois liberals has defined its policy as that of a bloc with the Right Centre of the bourgeois so-called liberals—speaking openly of its hostility to the Black Hundreds, and expressing its hostility to the Lefts, to the forces of democracy, by omitting any reference to any blocs with the Trudoviks, non-party Lefts, and workers’ candidates.

What we said in Zvezda, No. 28, in the article “Two Centres”, has been fully confirmed.[1]

There are three basic political forces in Russia, and, consequently, three political lines—the Black Hundreds (representing the class interests of the feudal landowners) and, alongside of and above, them, the “bureaucracy”; then, the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, the Left (Cadet) and Right (Octobrist) “Centre”; finally, the bourgeois democrats (the Trudoviks, Narodniks, non-party Lefts) and proletarian democracy. That this, and only this is the case, is confirmed by the entire experience of the first decade of the twentieth century, which was an extremely important and eventful decade.

It goes without saying that all boundaries in nature and in society are dynamic; they are not static, but, to a certain   extent, conditional and changing. Among the parties and groups standing “on the boundary line” of the main divisions, transitional forms and fluctuations are inevitable; but the substance of the matter, resulting from the relations of the class forces in Russia at the beginning of the twentieth century, is undoubtedly determined by none other than the indicated “triple” division. The lumping of the bourgeois liberals (headed by the Cadets) with the bourgeois democrats has caused considerable harm to the Russian liberation movement, and we must bend every effort to ensure that the experience of the great decade (1900–10) helps the democratic movement as a whole to become finally aware that it is a fatal mistake to lump things together in this fashion. Working-class democracy in our epoch is, therefore, faced by two inseparably connected tasks: first, to secure the independent political organisation of the class of wage-earners, independent of all bosses, big and little, even the most democratic, and pledging allegiance to the entire international movement of that class; and, second, to develop and strengthen the forces of Russian democracy (inevitably head ed by the workers, just as the bourgeois liberals are inevitably headed by social elements of the Cadet type). The latter task cannot be fulfilled unless we persistently explain to the broadest masses the class roots and the political significance of the difference between bourgeois liberalism (the Cadets) and bourgeois democracy (the Trudoviks, etc.).

The liberal bourgeoisie does not want to and cannot dispense with the Markovs and Purishkeviches, whose domination it only strives to moderate. Bourgeois democracy and the workers can only strive, more or less consistently and consciously, to destroy all the economic and political foundations of that domination.

That, from the standpoint of working-class democracy, is the main content of the campaign in connection with the elections to the Fourth Duma. It is this content that must be primarily emphasised to counteract the Cadet policy of deliberately confusing all the cardinal questions of principle by means of stock phrases about “progressism” and “opposition”.

The Cadet-Octobrist bloc is nothing new. It was foreseen by Marxists long ago. They pointed out the inherent class   affinity of the two component parts of this bloc as far back as 1905–07. Two possible majorities became defined as soon as the Third Duma was convened, and by the end of 1907 the Marxists had made this conclusion the cornerstone of their policy. The five years’ existence of the Third Duma has confirmed this conclusion. In general outline, the composition of the Third Duma is as follows:[2]

Rights . . . . . . 160 }
Octobrists . . . . . 124 }
284 — First majority
251 — Second majority
Liberals . . . . . . 127
Democrats . . . . . 29
Total . . . 440

Throughout its existence the Third Duma relied on these two majorities, which represent the necessary component parts of the entire system inaugurated on June 3, 1907. The first majority signifies that the “old” is to be preserved in power entirely intact; the second majority signifies “a step toward” a bourgeois monarchy. The first is needed by the June Third system to preserve the “power and revenue” of the Markovs, Purishkeviches and Co.; the second is needed to moderate this domination and to advance in the bourgeois manner (according to the formula; one step forward, two steps back). Experience has now clearly shown that this kind of advance is equal to stagnation, and that no progress is being made in “moderating” Purishkevichism.

Quite a number of votes taken in the Third Duma were decided by the “second majority”. Recently, Rech definitely admitted this, stating that “a number of votes.” at the be ginning of the last session “actually reproduce the domination of a Left Centre” (read of the Cadet-Octobrist bloc) in the Duma. Such votes are possible only because the second majority too, like the first, is a bulwark of counter-revolution; to illustrate this we need only recall Vekhi, or Karaulov’s pious speeches, or the “London” slogans.

Where are the results of these “victories” of the second majority? Where Is the proof of the truly marvellous discovery of the Cadet Party that there are “genuine constitutionalists” among the Octobrists? Doesn’t this discovery rather show how paltry is the Cadets’ conception of “genuine constitutionalism”?

The first and fundamental question of the election campaign is its political content, the ideological line it expresses. The resolution of the Cadet Party proves once more its anti-democratic nature, for the content of the Cadets’ election campaign reduces itself to further lowering the concept “constitutionalism” in the eyes of the masses. Instil into the minds of the people the idea that there are genuine constitutionalists among the “Left” Octobrists; that is what the Cadet Party is bent on, that is the meaning of its election policy.

The task of the democrats is a different one; not to belittle the idea of constitutionalism, but to explain that as long as power and revenue remain in the hands of the Markovs and their like it is nothing but a fiction. The content of the election campaign of the working-class democrats is determined by the task of bringing out the difference between liberalism and democracy, of rallying the forces of the latter, and of closing the ranks of the wage-workers throughout the world.

The resolutions of their conference imply that the Cadets are departing still further from democracy. Our task is to rally the forces of democracy to counter every sort of medievalism, and to counter the Cadet-Octobrist blocs.


[1] See pp. 297–99 of this volume.—Ed

[2] The calculation is based on the figures supplied by the official Handbook for 1910 (Issue II). The Rights include: Rights proper—51, Nationalists—89, Right Octobrists—11, and 50 per cent of the independents—9. The liberals include: Progressists—39, Cadets—52, all the nationality groups—27, and 50 per cent of the independents—9. The democrats include 14 Trudoviks and 15 Social-Democrats. —Lenin

[3] The Gololobov group—supporters of Y. G. Gololobov, one of the extreme Right-wing members of the Union of October Seventeenth (Octobrists) in the Third Duma.


Works Index   |   Volume 17 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index
< backward   forward >