V. I.   Lenin

Those Who Would Liquidate Us

Re: Mr. Potresov and V. Bazarov



Mr. Potresov’s arguments dovetail even less when he discusses Narodism. The Cadets he calls “former democrats” and even “former liberals”; of the peasantry he says: “By entering political life, the peasantry [in Mr. Potresov’s opinion, they have not yet entered political life] would usher in an entirely new chapter in history, that of peasant democracy, which would spell the end of the old, intellectual, Narodnik democracy”.

So the Cadets are former democrats and the peasantry are future democrats. But who, then, are the present democrats? Was there no democratic, no mass democratic, movement in Russia in 1905–07? Was there none in 1908-10? Potresov resorts to “round-about” phrases, to phrases that evade the essence of the matter, in order to throw a veil over the present. The direct and plain recognition of what indubitably exists at present flies in the face of the whole liquidationist philosophy of the Potresovs, for it would mean the plain and direct recognition of the now indubitable historical fact that the Cadets never represented any more or less mass democratic movement in Russia, that they never pursued a democratic policy, whereas the peasantry, the very same “peasant millions” of whom Mr. Potresov also speaks, did and do represent this bourgeois democratic movement (with all its limitations). Mr. Potresov evades this cardinal question precisely in order to save the liquidationist philosophy. But he cannot save it!

In trying to ignore the past and the present of the peas ant democratic movement, Mr. Potresov again misses the mark when he confidently discusses the future. Late again, my dear sir! You yourself speak of the “possible consequences of the law of November 9”[1]; hence, you yourself admit the possibility (purely abstract, of course) of its success. But as a result of this success the “new chapter in history” may prove to be a chapter not only in the history of peasant democracy, but also in the history of peasant agrarians.

The development of peasant farming in Russia and, consequently, of peasant land tenure and peasant politics cannot proceed along any other but capitalist lines. In its essence, the agrarian programme of the Narodniks, as formulated, for instance, in the well-known Platform of the 104[2] (in the First and Second Dumas), far from contradicting this capitalist development, implies the creation of conditions for the most widespread and most rapid capitalist development. The agrarian programme now in operation, on the other hand, implies the slowest and most narrow capitalist development, one most impeded by the survivals of serfdom. Objective historical and economic conditions have not yet provided an answer to the question—which   of these programmes will, in the final analysis, determine the form bourgeois agrarian relations will assume in the new Russia.

Such are the plain facts which the liquidators find it necessary to confuse.

In face of all the changes,” writes Mr. Potresov, referring to the changes in the ranks of the intellectual, Narodnik democratic movement, “one thing has remained unchanged: so far [I] the real peasantry have not introduced any corrections of their own into intellectualist ideology with its peasant trimmings.”

This is a statement of the purest Vekhi type and it is absolutely false. In 1905, the “real” peasant masses, the rank and file themselves, acted in the open historical arena, and introduced quite a number of “corrections” into the “intellectualist ideology” of the Narodniks and the Narodnik parties. Not all of these corrections have been understood by the Narodniks, but the peasantry did introduce them. In 1906 and in 1907, the very “real” peasantry created the Trudovik[3] groups and the Draft Platform of the 104, thereby introducing a number of corrections, some of which even the Narodniks noted. It is generally recognised, for example, that the “real” peasantry revealed their economic aspirations, and approved private and co-operative land tenure in place of the “commune”.

The Vekhi people who are purging liberalism of democracy, systematically converting it into a servant of the money-bags, are properly performing their mission in his tory when they declare that the movement of 1905–07 was one of intellectuals, and assert that the real peasantry introduced no corrections of their own into the intellectualist ideology. The tragicomedy of liquidationism is its failure to notice that its assertions have been and are simply a rehash of the Vekhi ideas.


[1] The law of November 9 (22), 1906 on “Additions to Certain Regulations of the Existing Law on Peasant Land Ownership and Land Tenure”, and the law of June 14 (27), 1910 on “Amendments and Addenda to Certain Regulations on Peasant Land Ownership” defined the regulations for the withdrawal of the peasants from the village communes, and for obtaining the title to their allotments.

[2] Platform of the 104—the Land Reform Bill of the Trudovik deputies to the First and Second Dumas was based on Narodnik principles of equalitarian land tenure: the creation of a national fund from state, crown and monastery lands, and also privately-owned lands if the estates exceeded the established “labour standard” (i.e., the amount of land that can be tilled by a peasant family without the help of hired labour). Provision was also made for compensation in respect of alienated land. The implementation of the land reform was to be the responsibility of local land committees.

[3] Trudoviks (Trudovik group)—a group of petty-bourgeois democrats in the Dumas composed of peasants and intellectuals with Narodnik leanings. The Trudovik group was formed in April 1906 from peasant deputies to the First Duma.

The Trudoviks demanded the abolition of all social-estate and national restrictions, the democratisation of urban and rural local government, and universal suffrage in elections to the State Duma. Their agrarian programme was that outlined in Note 49. Owing to the class nature of the small landowning peasantry the Trudoviks   in the State Duma wavered between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats. Since the Trudoviks to some extent represented the peasantry, the Bolsheviks in the Duma collaborated with them on certain questions relating to the general struggle against tsarism and against the Cadets. In 1917 the Trudovik group merged with the Popular Socialist Party and actively supported the bourgeois Provisional Government. After the October Socialist Revolution the Trudoviks supported the bourgeois counter-revolution.

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