V. I.   Lenin

The Campaign for the Elections to the Fourth Duma



The campaign for the elections to the Fourth Duma has opened. It was launched by the government sending out circular instructions on assistance to the “national” party, and by taking “measures” to provide for the qualifications of the government candidates, and to eliminate opposition candidates in general, and democratic candidates in particular.

The opposition press has also entered the election campaign. So has the Cadet Party, and its first step was the adoption of resolutions providing for a bloc with the “Left” Octobrists.

Therefore, working-class democracy must immediately a the utmost attention to the elections, and promptly, without a single week’s delay discuss its tactics in all their details, preparing all supporters of democracy in advance for the important and responsible role they are to perform.

In this article we propose to dwell on the role of worker electors. It is clear that in this case too, as always, we must stress the content of the work, that is to say, the ideological-political line of the campaign. Educate and organise the working class, unite it in an independent party that maintains solidarity with the West-European parties, explain to the working class its historical aims in changing the basic conditions of commodity economy and capitalism, segregate its party from all bourgeois democratic trends, even those that are “Left”, Narodnik, etc.—such is the basic task.

This fundamental task is the same for working-class democracy in all countries. And for this very reason its application in the present epoch in one country, in Russia, requires that the special and concrete tasks of our times be taken into consideration for the sake of this general common task. At the present moment two of these specific tasks of Russian working-class democracy are indissolubly connected and, because of objective conditions, require the greatest attention. The first of these two tasks is to under stand clearly the connection between the liquidationist trend (represented, as we know, by the magazines Nasha Zarya and Dyelo Zhizni) and the widespread bourgeois counter-revolutionary Vekhi trend. It is necessary to be clearly aware of the harm of bourgeois influence upon the proletariat in order to overcome it and to achieve the immediate aims affecting the very existence of working-class democracy, which the liquidators are denying. The second is the task of organising the Left democrats, clearly bearing in mind the necessity to draw a line between democracy (bourgeois democracy) and bourgeois liberalism. This is imperative if   working-class democracy is to exercise that leadership which is one of the indispensable conditions for any step forward by the general movement for freedom.

The lumping of the liberals (the Constitutional-Democratic Party) with the democrats (the Trudoviks, “Narodniks” of the Left persuasion) is fundamentally wrong in principle, and, in practice, leads to the betrayal of the interests of democracy. Upon the worker electors devolves the duty of upholding the correct interpretation of the liberation movement and explaining the class essence of the various parties (without allowing themselves to be taken in by “labels”, fine words and fancy names); they must draw a clear line between the Rights (from the Black Hundreds to the Octobrists), the bourgeois liberals (the Cadets and their kind), and the democrats (the Trudoviks and kindred trends are bourgeois democrats; the Marxists represent proletarian democracy).

In accordance with the electoral system instituted by the law of June 3, 1907, the worker electors play a particular role in the gubernia electoral assemblies. Therefore the immediate practical task is to ensure that all these electors are staunch and loyal representatives of working-class democracy.

As we know, the election of one of the worker electors to the State Duma is guaranteed in each of the following six gubernias: St. Petersburg, Moscow, Vladimir, Ekaterinoslav, Kostroma, and Kharkov. But the deputies are elected by the entire electoral assembly of each gubernia, which means, as a rule, by the Right electors, landowners and big bourgeoisie, Octobrists. To secure the election to the Duma of working-class democrats we must see to it that all the worker electors, without a single exception, are true working-class democrats and firmly support one definite candidate from their midst. Even if only one worker elector turns out to be a deserter, a liberal, a Right, the Octobrists will be sure to elect him, against the will of the majority of the worker electors!

But the enumerated six gubernias are not the only ones having worker electors in their electoral assemblies. Altogether the law provides for a total of 112 worker electors in 44 gubernias (out of 53).

What should be the role of these electors? To begin with, they must always pursue a principled line, endeavouring to organise the forces of democracy (particularly, the peasantry) and to help them cast off the influence of the liberals. This is an extremely important field of activity. Secondly, the worker electors are in a position (and should strive) to take advantage of the vote being split between the Rights and the liberals to elect their own candidates to the Duma.

Here is an example to illustrate the last-named task. Two members of the Third Duma from Vyatka Gubernia are Social-Democrats—Astrakhantsev and Putyatin. Yet the law does not provide for a deputy from the worker curia in Vyatka Gubernia. The gubernia electoral assembly in Vyatka is made up of 109 electors, of whom four are elected by the workers. How, then, did four workers (out of 109 electors) manage to send two deputies to the Duma? Most likely, the votes in the gubernia electoral assembly were equally divided, and the liberals could not gain the upper hand over the Rights without the support of the workers. Compelled to form a bloc with the workers, the liberals had to share seats in the Duma with them, and thus they elected two Social-Democrats to the Duma. The representation from Vyatka in the Duma was constituted as follows: 1 Progressist, 3 Cadets, 2 Trudoviks, and 2 Social-Democrats, or 4 liberals and 4 democrats. In that gubernia the workers might have gained three seats had they succeeded in driving a wedge between the democratic electors and the liberals, provided the former had had a majority over the latter. Suppose that, out of 109 electors, 54 are Rights (50 out of the 53 electors chosen by the landowners and 4 out of the 17 electors from the first assembly of urban voters). Let us suppose, further, that out of the other 55 electors, 20 are liberals (three from the landowner curia, 13 from the first urban curia, and four from the second urban curia), 35 are democrats (23 peasant electors, 8 electors from the second urban curia and 4 from the worker curia). Under these circumstances the democrats would have been bound to obtain 5 seats out of 8, and the workers could have obtained 3 of these seats, provided they enjoyed the confidence of the peasant democrats.

In Ufa Gubernia all the seats were captured by the liberals (including Moslems). Not a single representative of the democrats was elected. Yet, considering that there were 30 peasant electors, the three worker electors could undoubtedly have captured seats both for themselves and the Trudoviks had they shown greater skill in organising the democratic forces.

Perm Gubernia is represented in the Third Duma by 6 liberals and 3 democrats, of whom only one is a Social-Democrat. Yet the situation in Perm was as follows: there were 26 peasant electors, and out of them the liberals, who had a majority in the gubernia electoral assembly, elected a Trudovik, which means that the peasant curia was a hundred per cent Trudovik (and if, among the peasants, there had been a single deserter from the camp of democracy to the liberals, the latter would have elected the deserter!). The same applies to the second urban curia (13 electors), because from that curia, too, a Trudovik was elected by the votes of the liberals. Hence the number of democrats among the electors may be placed at 26+13+5 workers==44, out of a total of 120 electors, including 59 from the landowner curia and 17 from the first urban curia. Even assuming that, with the exception of the democrats, all the electors were liberals, their number was 76, i.e., less than two-thirds. It is more likely, however, that some of the electors were Rights. Consequently, the liberals, although comprising less than two-thirds in the electoral assembly, captured two-thirds of the Perm seats in the Duma. The inevitable conclusion to be drawn from this is that, had the democrats been more class-conscious and better organised (and it is above all the workers who must see to this!), they would not have let the liberals put anything over on them. The Social-Democrat Yegorov was elected in Perm Gubernia at the general assembly of the electors, i.e., by the liberals—which means that the liberals needed the support of the workers. And it was plainly a mistake on the part of the workers, a direct infringement of the interests of democracy, to give this support without securing a proportionate share of the seats in the Duma for democracy.

In making these calculations we wish to emphasise that they are merely meant as examples, to illustrate our idea,   for we are not in possession of any exact data regarding the party affiliations of the electors in general or of the electors in each separate curia. Actually, matters are more complicated and represent a more motley picture than might be assumed from our examples. But it is necessary for the workers to understand the basic relation of forces in the “intricate mechanism” of elections based on the June Third law. Once they have assimilated the fundamentals, they will be able to understand the details as well.

The two most democratic curias (after the worker curia, of course, which can and should be completely Marxist, completely anti-liquidationist) are the peasant curia and the second urban curia. Of these, the first is more democratic than the second, despite the infinitely greater lack of freedom at the elections in the rural districts and the infinitely worse conditions for agitation and organisation among the peasants, as compared with townspeople.

Indeed, deputies specially elected at the second assembly of urban voters to the Third Duma represented 28 gubernias. Among those thus elected were 16 Rights, 10 liberals, and 2 democrats (Rozanov from Saratov and Petrov the Third from Perm). Deputies specially elected from the peas ant curia were sent to the Thud Duma from all the 53 gubernias. They included 23 Rights, 17 liberals, 5 democrats and 8 independents. If we divide the independents equally between the Rights and the opposition, we obtain the following comparative data:

{{{ Members of the Third
{{{ From the Second
Urban Curia
{{{ From the Peasant
Rights . . . . . . 16 27
Opposition parties 12==43 per cent 26==49 per cent

Opposition deputies thus comprised 43 per cent of the deputies elected by the second urban curia and 49 per cent of the deputies elected by the peasant curia. Considering that, as we know, the peasant deputies in the Third Duma introduced an agrarian bill which was in substance more democratic than the bill introduced by the Cadets, and that the bill bore the signatures also of independent and Right   peasant deputies, it is obvious that the democracy of the peasant curia surpasses the democracy of the second urban curia to an even greater extent than would appear from our data.

Consequently, the workers in general and the worker electors in particular must devote most of their attention to the peasant curia and the peasant electors. As the organisers of the forces of democracy the workers must carry on their activities in the first place among the peasants, and then among the electors from the second urban curia. In both these curias the intermingling of the liberals and democrats is particularly pronounced, is particularly frequent, and is particularly cultivated by the Cadets, who are taking ad vantage of their experience in “parliamentary deals” and their “democratic” name (“Constitutional-Democrats”, the “party of people’s freedom”), which disguises their anti-democratic, Vekhi, counter-revolutionary substance, in order brazenly to deceive politically undeveloped people.

The ideological and political task of the workers at the present stage of the Russian liberation movement is to organise the forces of democracy. The technical work of the election campaign must be subordinated to this task. Hence the necessity to devote special attention to the peasant curia and then to the second urban curia. In the gubernia electoral assembly, the first duty of the worker elector is to unite all the democrats. In order to get himself nominated, the worker elector needs three votes—he must find two peasant democrats or, if the worst comes to the worst, persuade two liberals, who would not risk anything by nominating a worker. The democratic members of the gubernia electoral assemblies should form blocs with the liberals against the Rights. If it proves impossible to form such a bloc immediately (and most likely this is what is going to happen in the majority of cases, because the electors will not be acquaint ed with each other), the tactics of the democrats should be to unite first with the liberals to defeat the Rights, and then with the Rights to defeat the liberals, so that neither are able to secure the election of their candidates (provided that neither the Rights nor the liberals command an absolute majority by themselves, for if they do the democrats cannot hope to get into the Duma). In accordance with Article 119 of the   Regulations governing the elections, the assembly adjourns. Then the democrats, guided by the exact figures of the votes cast, form a bloc with the liberals, demanding a proportionate share of the seats. In such cases it is essential that the liberals elect the democrat first and not the other way round, for history and the entire experience of Europe show that the liberals have often cheated the democrats, whereas the democrats have never cheated the liberals.

If they know which curias send democratic electors, and learn to drive a wedge between the democrats and the liberals, the worker electors in 44 gubernias can play an enormous role both in organising the forces of democracy in general and in securing the election of a larger number of worker democrats and bourgeois democrats (Trudoviks) to the Duma. In the present Duma there are fifteen of the former and fourteen of the latter. If the workers pursue correct tactics they can, under favourable conditions, secure the election of double that number. The liberals are sure to have a strong group—about a hundred or more deputies—in the Fourth Duma. They will constitute the “responsible opposition” (of the London type) capable of forming a bloc with the Octobrists. We must work to elect a group of several dozen deputies who will constitute a really democratic opposition, not an opposition of the Vekhi brand. And this can be achieved.

The law gives the workers the right to choose electors in 44 gubernias. Class-conscious workers in each factory must at once familiarise themselves with the law, take careful note of their duties and their position, and ensure that the electors they send are genuine working-class democrats, not liquidators.

If, as a result of class-conscious, careful and systematic work one hundred and twelve worker electors are elected, they can render very great service both in rallying the working class, which everywhere in Europe aspires to achieve lofty aims of world-wide significance, and also in organising the forces of democracy in Russia.

Time is short. Every class-conscious worker must shoulder this difficult, but doubly worth-while task.




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