V. I.   Lenin

Cadets and Democrats

Published: Pravda No. 75, July 26, 1912. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 229-230.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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We are accustomed to think,” says the leading article in Rech, “that Marxists admit the Cadets to be a democratic party, although they affix the offensive label of ‘bourgeois’” (i.e., bourgeois-democratic).

It would be hard to imagine crasser political ignorance on the part of “educated people” who read Marxist literature. The question inevitably arises: does not calculation sometimes make people simulate ignorance?

Since 1906 we have explained hundreds and thousands of times that the Cadets are not democrats but a liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie. In the spring of 1907 formal decisions adopted by Marxists from all parts of Russia and familiar to every politically-educated person confirmed this and stated for all to hear that the Cadets were a party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie, that their democracy was “hypocrisy”, and that the Cadets were followed by a section of the petty bourgeoisie “only by force of tradition [a blind habit of clinging to the customary, to the old ] and because it was simply deceived by the liberals[1]

These ideas have since been reaffirmed and elaborated hundreds and thousands of times.

But the Cadets assert, as if nothing had happened, that they are “in the habit of thinking” that Marxists consider them democrats! There is none so deaf as he who will not hear.

The liberals differ from the conservatives (Black Hundreds) in that they represent the interests of the bourgeoisie, which needs progress and a fairly well organised legal system, the observance of legality, of the constitution, and a guarantee of some degree of political liberty.

But this progressive bourgeoisie dreads the democracy and the movement of the masses even more than it dreads reaction. Hence the liberals’ perpetual tendency to make concessions to the old, to compromise with it, to defend many fundamental mainstays of the old order. And all this makes for the complete impotence of liberalism, for its timidity, half-heartedness and eternal vacillations.

Democrats represent the broad mass of the population. A democrat is not afraid of the movement of the masses but believes in it. In Russia the democrats are represented by the Trudoviks and Left “Narodniks” in general. The Marxists call them bourgeois democrats, not at all because they want to “offend” them, but because no redivision of the land and no democratic changes in the state are sufficient to remove the rule of capital, of the bourgeois system.

The policy of the worker democrats is clear. We recognise agreements with the liberals against the Rights only at the second stage of the elections, and only where it is impossible together with the democrats to defeat the liberals. We fight side by side with all bourgeois democrats as long as they are true to their democratic principles.


[1] Lenin is quoting the resolution of the Fifth (London) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. “On the Attitude to Non-Proletarian Parties” (see The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, Part One, 1954, p. 164, Russ. ed.).

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