V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written in the first half of December 1912
Published: First published in 1954 in the journal Kommunist No. 6. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 216-218.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work, as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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The Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma was the first Social-Democratic parliamentary group in Russia to manage to exist for several years and to stand a long “test” of working jointly with the party of the working class. For obvious reasons we cannot here tell the story of this work. We can and must point out only the most important feature: what was the impact of the Party’s development on the Duma group, and how did relations between the group and the Party change?

First of all, we have to establish the fact that the early steps in the activity of the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma aroused the strong dissatisfaction and sharp disapproval of the Majority of the Party. The group was largely dominated by the Mensheviks, who were in opposition to the Party’s 1907 decisions,[2] and the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma continued or took over this “opposition.”

A kind of struggle began between the Party and the group. The group’s declaration was attacked—and quite rightly—for its opportunism. The periodicals which represented the opinion of the Majority of the Party, or of the Party as a whole, repeatedly criticised the group’s opportunist steps, and noted that on a number of questions the group had either failed to set forth the Party’s views in full, or had expressed them wrongly.

A long list of the mistakes and erroneous actions of the Third Duma group subject to correction was officially   recognised in December 1908.[3] Naturally, it was clearly stated at the time that the responsibility fell not only on the group, but also on the whole Party, which ought to pay more attention to its Duma group and work more closely with it.

The results of that work are there for all to see. Between 1908 and 1912, the Right wing of Menshevism in the Party developed into liquidationism. The four-year struggle of both Bolsheviks and pro-Party Mensheviks[4] against liquidationism cannot be excised from history, however much Luch would like to do so.

During these four years, the Social-Democratic Duma group, from being in opposition to the Party, from being a group criticised by the Party and defended (and sometimes directly encouraged in its opportunism) by the Mensheviks, became an anti-liquidationist group.

The group’s connections with the various newspapers by 1912 have provided documentary evidence of this. Astrakhantsev and Kuznetsov contributed to the liquidationist Zhivoye Dyelo. Belousov did too, but he soon left the group altogether, sending it an extremely liquidationist message with sympathetic references to Martov and Nasha Zarya[5] (Mr. Belousov’s historic message will probably soon appear in the press).

Furthermore, Shurkanov wrote both for the liquidationist and for the anti-liquidationist newspapers. Gegechkori and Chkheidze wrote for neither. The other 8 members of the group (Voronin, Voiloshnikov, Yegorov, Zakharov, Pokrovsky, Predkaln, Poletayev and Surkov) contributed to the anti-liquidationist publications.

In 1911–12 Nasha Zarya repeatedly expressed its dissatisfaction with the Social-Democratic Duma group: the liquidators could not be pleased at the Menshevik group’s siding with the anti-liquidators.

The experience of work in the Black-Hundred Duma, and the experience of struggle against the Right wing of Menshevism, which has sunk into the swamp of liquidationism, all tended to push the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma to the left, towards the Party, and away from opportunism.

Very many, especially those who find it unpleasant,   are wont to forget this remarkable story of the four-year struggle of the Party for a Party attitude in the group (which only means, of course, its ideological orientation, its line). But the story is a fact. It should be remembered. It should be the point of departure in assessing the work of the group in the Fourth Duma. Of this, more in the next article.

V. I.


[1] The first article was published (under a similar title) in Pravda No. 191 on December 12, 1912 (see present edition, Vol. 18, pp. 437–38). In 1954, the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party handed the C.P.S.U. Central Committee material of Lenin’s Cracow-Poronin archives, discovered in Cracow, among which were the manuscripts of the third and fifth articles, “The Working Class and Its ‘Parliamentary’ Representatives”. They were first published in April 1954 in the journal Kommunist. The second and fourth articles have not been found.

[2] The resolution of the Fourth Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. (the Third All-Russia Conference), held at Helsingfors from November 5 to 12 (18 to 25), 1907, “On the Tactics of the Social– Democratic Group in the Duma” (see KPSS v resolyutsiyakh..., Part  One, 1954, pp. 182–84).

[3] The resolution of the Fifth Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. held in Paris from December 21 to 27, 1908 (January 3 to 9, 1909), “On the Duma Social-Democratic Group” (see KPSS v resolyutsiyakh..., Part One, 1954, pp. 198–201).

[4] The pro-Party Mensheviks—a small group of Mensheviks led by Plekhanov, who separated from the Menshevik-liquidators and opposed the trend from 1908 to 1912.

[5] Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn)—a legal Menshevik-liquidator monthly, published in St. Petersburg from 1910 to 1914. It was the liquidators’ centre in Russia.

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