V. I.   Lenin

Questions of Principle

Published: Pravda No. 79, July 31, 1912. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 246-247.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). 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.README

A slight increase in the election campaign activity, and the official-Cadet Rech has begun to speak (it has done so at last!) of the differences it has with the Lefts over questions of principle.

We never intended, nor do we intend, to make peace with the June Third regime,” writes Rech.

That is not true. You did intend and you do intend to, Cadet gentlemen. Evidence of it is your talk about a “responsible” opposition and an opposition in the possessive case. That is not merely “intending” peace, but a policy of “peace” with the June Third regime.

And what about Karaulov’s pious speeches in the pious Third Duma? Or the Cadets’ voting for the budget and for its more important items? Or the speeches of Berezovsky the First on the agrarian question? Or Gredeskul’s recent statements, repeated in Rech? Does not all that amount to a policy of peace with the foundations of the June Third regime? It certainly does.

Over a period of five years,” writes Rech, “we have never seen any difference between the tactics of the Social-Democratic Party within the framework of the Duma and those of other opposition par ties. Yet in this case it is a question of elections to the Duma.”

There you have a specimen of sophistry and distortion of the truth! Not on a single question have Social-Democratic tactics in the Duma been akin to Cadet tactics. They have been fundamentally different on all questions: they have not been tactics of “peace” or of liberalism; they have always been tactics of democracy and the class struggle.

Does Rech really maintain that mere “voting against” can be described as kinship in tactics, instead of kinship in posing questions from the standpoint of principle in the Duma speeches and in the formulas of procedure?

Does Rech really venture to say that it is permissible to say one thing in the Duma and another outside it? But if it does, is it not because it wants to hush up the issue of the undemocratic character of Cadet propaganda outside the Duma?

We cannot deny the ‘democratic’ movement, which we serve ourselves, the right to independent aims and actions,” writes Rech.

That is not true, educated liberal gentlemen! See if you can state your fundamental views on the distinction between liberalism and democracy. See if you can illustrate your views with examples from English, French or German his tory, even leaving out specifically working-class, proletarian, Marxist democracy. You will not be able to deny the distinction between bourgeois liberalism and bourgeois democracy as regards their attitude to the old order. And we shall always prove to you that you are a party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie and not at all a democratic party.

Bourgeois democracy in Russia is represented by the Trudoviks and Narodniks of all types.

Once you have set your hand to the plough you can’t give up.” You have set out to discuss the principles of the Cadets and the Lefts, so you must really explain those principles. That is the only way to raise election agitation somewhat above the question of how many lawless acts such-and-such a police officer, governor, or administrative body is guilty of.


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