Written: Written on February 6–9 (19–22), 1913
Published: Published in Prosveshcheniye Nos. 3 and 4, March and April 1913. Signed: V. Ilyin. Published according to the magazine text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, , Moscow, Volume 18, pages 562-579.
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
Recently the Cadet deputies conferred again with local leaders of that party.
As might have been expected, they discussed the features of the present political situation. The liberals appraised the situation as follows:
“Attention was drawn to the increasing discrepancy between the country’s requirements for basic legislation and the impossibility of meeting them under the present system of legislative institutions and in view of the present attitude of the authorities towards popular representation.”
The style is as tangled as a ball of wool with which a kitten has been playing for a long time. Our poor liberals—they have nowhere to express their ideas clearly!
But take a closer look: the trouble is not so much that the liberals have nowhere to talk as that they have nothing to say. The discrepancy is growing not only between the country’s requirements and the hopelessness of the “present system”, etc., but also between the country’s requirements and the liberals’ helplessness.
Why is it impossible for you, liberal politicians, to meet the requirements of the country? The Cadets reply: because the present system of legislative institutions and the present attitude of the authorities towards popular representation hinder it.
Consequently, we need a different system and a different attitude of the authorities. We shall see in what way they must be different when we analyse in subsequent articles the “four theses” of the Cadet meeting.
But we must first put the main question: What is the reason for the “present” “system and attitude”? Where could anything different come from? The Cadets did not even think of it! Their reticence on this fundamental question amounts to hardened, Asiatic philistinism, like saying that there were bad advisers but there can be good advisers.
Is there no connection, Cadet gentlemen, between the “present” and the interests of some class, such as the class of the big landlords? Or the richest section of the bourgeoisie? Is not there complete accord between the “present” and the interests of definite classes? Is it not clear that any one who sets about discussing the political situation without taking into account the relations between all the classes engages in useless talk?
Alas! The Cadets have nothing but empty talk to cover up the “increasing discrepancy” between their policy and the requirements of the country.
Our liberals in general—and they are followed by the liberal labour politicians (liquidators)—like to talk at length about the “Europeanisation” of Russia. A tiny little truth serves here as a cover for a big untruth.
There can be no doubt that Russia, speaking generally, is becoming Europeanised, i.e., reorganised in the image of Europe (moreover, in “Europe” we should now include Japan and China, in spite of geography). But this Europeanisation has been going on since Alexander II, or perhaps even since Peter the Great; it went on not only during the upswing (1905), but also during reaction (1908–11); it has been going on in the police and among the Markov-type landlords, who are “Europeanising” their methods of fighting the democratic movement.
The catchword “Europeanisation” turns out to be so general that it serves to obscure matters, to obscure urgent political issues.
The liberals want a Europeanised Russia. But the Council of the United Nobility, too, sought Europeanisation by its law of November 9, 1906 (June 14, 1910).
The liberals want a European constitution. But the constitutions established in various countries of Europe were the result of long and strenuous class struggles between feudalism and absolutism, on the one hand, and the bourgeoisie, the peasantry and the workers, on the other. Written and unwritten constitutions, with which the liberals “shame” our reactionaries, are merely a record of the results of struggle obtained through a series of hard-won victories of the new over the old and a series of defeats inflicted on the new by the old.
The liberals want the results to make their appearance in our country without the sum total of advantages and disadvantages of which the results consist! The liberal programme and liberal tactics amount to this: let a European way of life take shape in our country without the hard struggle which brought it into being in Europe!
It is understandable that our Kobylinskys greet the liberals’ wishes and arguments with contemptuous sallies against “shopkeepers” and “muzhiks”. “You want, liberal gentlemen,” say the Kobylinskys, “to register on paper victories that you have not yet won in reality.”
The Cadet meeting approved four theses on tactics. The first reads:
“The tactic of united action by the entire opposition front, while being a necessary condition for the execution of the Duma’s current business, does not, however, guarantee either the securing of a solid and lasting majority in the Duma for the Bills of the opposition or the actual realisation of the Bills whose adoption in the Duma the opposition could secure, with the aid of the Duma Centre.”
Translated into plain Russian, this gibberish means the following:
It is only with the Octobrists that the liberals can form a majority in the Duma. Such a majority is not permanent and its decisions are not put into effect.
Quite so. But this leads to the conclusion that to call those decisions “necessary”, “current” and “business” (!??) is to deceive oneself and the people.
In defeating the Rights by voting with the Octobrists, we must not adopt the standpoint of legislating in the Fourth Duma, must not sow constitutional illusions—that is what the Cadets should have said to the people had they wanted to be democrats, not in words alone.
The first “thesis” of the Cadet meeting is strikingly illogical. It describes as “business” the approval by an inconstant and unstable majority in the Fourth Duma of Bills that are not put into effect!! The Cadets themselves have on a hundred occasions described this as “vermicelli” and a nuisance, and justly so.
But the Cadet tactics, extremely stupid from the stand point of logic, become comprehensible from the standpoint of class interests. Let us recall what the Social-Democrats have been saying in the Third and Fourth Dumas ever since 1907. “There are two possible majorities in the Duma,” they said, “a Right-wing and Octobrist and an Octobrist Cadet one. Both take a counter-revolutionary stand” (cf. Prosveshcheniye, 1913, No. 1, p. 13).
The Cadets’ February 1913 meeting confirmed what we had been saying in our official decisions since 1907.
“The tactic of united action by the entire opposition front ... with the aid of the Duma Centre” is indispensable to the Cadets precisely because, like the Octobrists, they take a counter-revolutionary stand. In view of the inner kinship of the Cadets and Octobrists, it is understandable that they gravitate towards joint ‘business’, despite its hopelessness today.
The Octobrists are always whimpering in their press, railing at the revolution, railing at the government, the Rights and the Council of State, but in the Duma they con fine themselves to a desire for reforms and follow the government.
The Cadets whimper even more in their press, railing at the revolution, railing at the government, the Rights, the Council of State and the Octobrists, but in the Duma they confine themselves to a desire for reforms and try to adapt their opposition to the Octobrists.
The second thesis of the Cadet meeting reads:
“The Duma can be substantially strengthened as a legislative and political factor only by fulfilling three fundamental conditions: democratisation of the electoral law (universal suffrage), a radical reform of the Council of State, and a responsible Ministry.”
The gist of the tactics set out here may be expressed by one word: reformism.
Historical science tells us that the distinction between a reformist and a non-reformist change in a given political form is, generally speaking, that in the former case the old ruling class retains power, while in the latter case power is transferred from the old class to a new one. The Cadets do not understand the class basis of historical changes. This is their basic error from the point of view of theory.
From the point of view of practice, the above theoretical distinction depends on whether the particular is changed while the general and basic is left unchanged, or whether it is the latter that is changed.
In different countries and in different periods of history, the bourgeoisie has been reformist or has gone further than that. On the other hand, the working class, which has never considered reforms capable of bringing about radical changes, under certain conditions by no means refrains from advancing immediate demands in the shape of reforms.
The point is, consequently, that the Cadets regard the retention of power by the present ruling class, i.e., the big feudal-type landowners, as indisputable. The Cadets persist in their standpoint of an opposition in the possessive case, continuing to hold the view that “there is a constitution in Russia, thank God”.
In other words, the Cadets’ “three basic conditions” are those proposed by the liberal bourgeoisie for an amicable division of economic and political privileges between the feudal landowners and the capitalists.
The Octobrists have the same standpoint (“reconciliation of the government and the country”, as phrased by Maklakov, who is half Octobrist and half Cadet), except that the Octobrists propose conditions for division that are more “subservient” with regard to the landowners.
The big subservience of the Octobrists has proved a fiasco. What reasons are there for expecting a different result from the little subservience of the Cadets? From the point of view of reformism, the Octobrists are much more consistent, for those who adopt this point of view must take into account the acceptability of reforms, and the Octobrist “reforms” are much more “acceptable”.
The only conclusion to be drawn is that the discrepancy between liberal reformism and the requirements of the country is growing.
The third thesis of the Cadet meeting reads:
“Preparing these conditions should become the main tactical task of the Constitutional-Democrats, and current legislative activity, jointly with the other opposition groups and with the Centre, should be utilised as far as it proves feasible but should not run counter to the realisation of these main tasks” (Rech No. 34, February 4).
The previous “thesis” was a concession to the Left Cadets, or rather a bait for the democrats, as if to say: support us Cadets, for we are “democrats” and are for universal suffrage!
After the nod to the left comes a serious turn to the right; the third thesis, translated from gibberish into plain Russian reads: we Cadets recognise joint current legislative activity with the Progressists and Octobrists!
But does not this “current” legislation produce unrealisable Bills, as the first thesis admits? The Cadets make a little reservation: “as far as feasible”. Speaking more plainly, this is equivalent to saying: we shall busy ourselves with vermicelli, but the responsibility for it falls on the Octobrists! Really, they are good jokers, are our Cadets.
To proceed. Neither the Progressists, nor the Octobrists, who are more consistent than the Cadets in their adherence to the reformist point of view, agree to such “excessively” liberal demands as universal suffrage, radical reform of the Council of State, etc. That being so, how can the Cadets, who continue to pose as democrats, proclaim joint current legislative activity with these admitted opponents of democracy?
Here, too, the Cadets have a little reservation—to the effect that they, the Cadets, are busy preparing for universal suffrage, preparing, jointly with the Octobrists, for activity that “should not run counter to the realisation” of universal suffrage!
It is a simple loophole—they declare Rodzyanko’s speech to be “constitutional”, and they vote (not by mistake, as do the Social-Democrats, but by conviction) for the Octobrist formula of procedure with regard to the declaration of the Minister, for all this does not run counter to “preparing” for universal suffrage!!
Here we cannot say that the Cadets are good jokers. In this case we should have to use a different word.
In all European countries, the counter-revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie, which has turned its back on the democratic movement, continues to assert that it is busy preparing (jointly with the national-liberals in Prussia and with all the Progressists in France) for “basic” democratic reforms.
The bourgeoisie which has definitely taken the reformist path is a rotten bourgeoisie, impotent in its liberalism, hopeless in the matter of democratic changes, and hostile to the workers, a bourgeoisie which has deserted to the Rights from the people.
The fourth, and last, thesis of the Cadet meeting reads:
“This meeting considers it opportune, along with advancing the three slogans mentioned above, to raise the question of adopting more active tactical measures of parliamentary struggle.”
Only parliamentary? And only “to raise the question”?
Just what is meant by “more active tactical measures of parliamentary struggle”, Allah alone knows. One might think the Cadet meeting had deliberately formulated its theses in the most incoherent terms.
In speaking of more active measures, the Cadets clearly want to show that they are moving to the left. But it is nothing more than a show, for nothing definite can be read into it.
What are the kind of “measures” of parliamentary struggle that can, generally speaking, be called more active?
Refusal to vote for the Octobrist and Progressist formulas of procedure.
Refusal to make speeches about “reconciliation of the government and the country”.
Refusal to be silent whenever a Right-wing and Octobrist majority puts through anti-democratic measures.
Refusal to agree to the closure or curtailment of general debates on matters of principle.
We advise anyone who comes into contact with the Cadets to make a point of asking them whether they have “raised” the question of more active measures, how they have decided this question since they are going to raise it, and how they actually adopt “more active measures”.
The country is moving to the left. The new democratic movement is awakening to life. The Cadets’ show of a slight swing to the left has a very definite political meaning, namely, to deceive this new democratic movement, to impose its leadership upon it, to make themselves out to be its spokesmen.
The urgent task of the democrats is to prevent this deceit. Anyone who has not drawn from the hard lessons of the past the conclusion that even partial leadership of the democratic elements by the Cadets inevitably results in vacillation, betrayals, and inglorious defeats without struggle, has learned nothing. He should he regarded as an enemy of democracy.
Taken as a whole, the Cadet meeting was an interesting document of the political activity of our “Centre”. Normally the press in our country pays little attention to such documents, to the precise and formal decisions of organised parties. It has a distaste for “resolutions”. It prefers interviews and gossip.
But those who take a serious view of politics must care fully analyse party decisions, and Marxists will do all in their power to make such an analysis.
We have described the Cadets as the “Centre”. It is customary, however, to apply this term to the Octobrists, who stand midway between the Rights and the opposition.
However, both from the point of view of the class basis of the political parties and from that of the nature of contemporary politics in general, we must not limit ourselves to the Duma in analysing the parties, must not consider the Octobrists alone to be the “Centre”.
Look at the class basis of our parties—the Rights and nationalists, in general, are semi-feudal landlords. They stand for the preservation and “aggravation” of the present regime.
Among the Octobrists, Progressists and Cadets, we see landlords of an undoubtedly more bourgeois type, and then the bulk of the big bourgeoisie. All these parties want reforms. They all form a real centre between the semi-feudal landlords and the democrats (peasants and workers).
The bourgeoisie is more afraid of democracy than of reaction; this applies both to the Progressists and to the Cadets. The oppositional nature of these two parties has, of course, to be taken into account in the practical tasks of everyday politics, but this oppositional nature should not make us close our eyes to the class kinship of these par ties and the Octobrists.
The semi-feudal landlords rule both by themselves and in a bloc with the upper ranks of the bourgeoisie. The feudal landlords are against reforms. The bourgeoisie in general is in favour of reforms, and it confines itself to a reformist stand, which is more than we can say of the peasant, let alone of the worker, democrats.
The Cadet meeting clearly showed us the Cadets’ reformism as their exclusive tactics. The most important thing is to see the connection between these tactics and the class interests of the bourgeoisie, and the inadequacy of these tactics, the “increasing discrepancy” between them and the requirements of the country. The most important thing is to see the fundamental kinship of the Cadets and the Octobrists, and the absolute impossibility of any democratic successes whatever under Cadet leadership.
This article was finished when I received Golos Moskvy No. 30, with an editorial under the heading “What Next?”, devoted to the Cadet meeting.
Taken in conjunction with the Duma votings on February 6 (adoption of the formula of procedure with regard to Kasso’s explanation), that editorial is so important and sheds so vivid a light on the Cadets’ attitude to the Octobrists that it is absolutely necessary to comment on those votings.
The official Octobrist organ, Golos Moskvy, represents the Cadet meeting (for some reason the paper calls it a “conference”) as a victory of the Left Cadets, headed by Milyukov, over the Right Cadets.
“Legislative activity,” said Golos Moskvy, expounding the Cadet resolution, “can be utilised only insofar as it does not run counter to these main tasks [i.e., universal suffrage, a reform of the Council of State, and a responsible Ministry].
“To put it more simply, the adoption of this formula is tantamount to renouncing all legislative work within the bounds of what can actually be accomplished, and the Cadet opposition is henceforward assuming a frankly irresponsible character.”
Golos Moskvy infers that there is nothing for it but to dissolve the Duma, for the Octobrists will never adopt the Cadets’ attitude, which is so “uncompromising” (don’t laugh!), there is no majority in the Duma, things are “utterly hopeless”....
See how history is written!
That brings out remarkably well the profound kinship of the Cadets and the Octobrists, and the true nature of their “quarrel”: a lovers’ quarrel.
On February 6, in Moscow, the official Octobrist organ announced, as we have seen, the complete break-up of the Octobrist-Cadet bloc following the Cadet meeting, which took place before February 4 (when Rech reported the meeting).
On the very same day, February 6, the Octobrists and Cadets in the Fourth Duma, in St. Petersburg, together adopted by 173 votes to 153 the Octobrist-Cadet formula of procedure with regard to Kasso’s explanation, a formula subsequently rejected by chance when a confirmatory vote was taken!!
That’s good, isn’t it?
We have here a classical example of how the Octobrists and the Cadets fix their political “affairs”. They have nothing to do with any “bloc”, God forbid! But they distribute the roles among themselves—to fool the public—so “skilfully” that no formal bloc could provide them with any thing so “convenient”. The Cadets see that the country is moving to the left, that a new democratic movement is arising, and so they play at leftism by putting in circulation, through their meeting, several phrases which say absolutely nothing and are completely meaningless, but which sound like Left phrases. The Octobrists support this feeling or impression among the public that the Cadets have gone left; they bolster it up by officially declaring, in the Golos Moskvy editorial, that the Cadets’ attitude is uncompromising and that it is impossible to form a majority in the Duma by an alliance of the Octobrists and Cadets; they fulminate against the Cadets for their leftism, clamour for the dissolution of the Duma, and so on and so forth.
But in reality under cover of this clamour they haggled with the Cadets, and at the very time when they were making their sharpest attack on the Cadets’ leftism they struck a bargain with them on a common formula!!
“The wolves had their fill and the sheep kept their skins.” The democrats were hoodwinked, they were deceived and decoyed into the Cadet fold (the Cadets are so Left-wing—see how the Octobrists rail at them for their leftism!), and the Octobrist-Cadet bloc in the Black-Hundred Duma was preserved, strengthened and expanded.
One feels very much like exclaiming: 0 God, when will the Russian democrats see through this simple stratagem of liberal Cadet bamboozling! For liberal bourgeois politicians in all European countries use, in one form or another, the very same trick: when facing the people, they shout and swear in their official election speeches that they are democrats and radicals (the German “freethinkers”, Lloyd George and Co. in Britain), and even socialists (the Radical Socialists in France). But in reality, in their actual policy, they make common cause with unquestionably anti-democratic governments and parties, with the Octobrists of various shades and various nationalities.
How old this story is and how infinitely often the Cadets repeat it!
Golos Moskvy asserts that prior to the elections the Cadets
“carried on bitter polemics against the Lefts, trying to prove the need for legislative work within the bounds of the actual conditions. It was this that warranted the hope that agreement could be reached between the Duma Centre and the opposition. But after the elections the views of the leaders of the Cadet Party underwent an important change. The resolution on Duma tactics proposed by Milyukov and adopted by the conference is entirely at variance with all that was said during the elections—evidently to win the votes of the big urban bourgeoisie. The latter would scarcely have agreed to back the Cadets on the platform which the conference has now put forward.”
In this specimen of reasoning, you wonder which is the more astounding—its na\"ive cunning or naive ignorance.
The views of the Cadets have not changed in the least. The Cadets have always been, and remain, a liberal party leading the democratic movement by fraud. At the 1912 elections, too, they showed the big bourgeoisie their “true” face, their “solidarity” of smart dealers, their “sobriety” as servants of the capitalist class. But at the same time, in front of the democratic voters, they took great pains to suggest that they were democrats and that their Duma tactics did not differ in any essential from Social-Democratic tactics.
These two aspects of the Cadet policy are an indispensable “adjunct of the attire” of every liberal party in any civilised country. To be sure, individual party members often specialise, some in playing at democracy, others in sobering up the “over-zealous” and pursuing a “respectable” bourgeois policy. But then this is true of all countries. For example, Britain’s well-known liberal charlatan, Lloyd George, poses in his speeches to the people as a regular revolutionary and all but a socialist, but in reality this Minister follows the policy of his leader, Asquith, who is no different from a Conservative.
The fact that the article in Golos Moskvy describes Mr. Milyukov as a representative of the Left Cadets can only call forth a smile. Mr. Milyukov in fact represents official Cadet diplomacy, which is trying to reconcile the undemocratic nature of the party with democratic phrase-mongering.
Golos Moskvy said:
“This new ‘post-election’ attitude of Mr. Milyukov’s was approved by the conference anything but unanimously. A considerable number of participants insisted on the tactic of agreement with the Duma Centre for the purpose of securing the adoption of various Bills and cultural reforms. The advocates of this point of view argued that in discussing various Bills the group should compromise, trying to have them adopted in a liberal spirit, and by no means making them unacceptable.” There followed a sally against “the famous Cadet discipline” and “unquestioning submission” of the Cadets to Mr. Milyukov’s “autocratic will”.
The game is obvious. It is transparent. The Octobrists “tease” the Right Cadets, whom they are trying to represent as defeated and provoke to a more determined struggle against the Left Cadets. But this Octobrist game (which would have been impossible had the Cadets and Octobrists not been members of one and the same little family) does not eliminate the indisputable fact that there are differences of shade between the Left and the Right Cadets, between the Lloyd Georges and the Asquiths of our liberalism.
Look at Russkaya Molva. This Progressist organ, which advocates a compromise between the Octobrists and the Cadets, is attracting an increasing number of official members of the Cadet Party. Mansyrev and Maklakov and Obolensky and Gredeskul and Alexandrov proved to be contributors—not all at once, but gradually, following the Vekhi leader, Struve. It is beyond doubt that these people urged closer links with the Octobrists. Nor could it have been otherwise. But it is just as doubtless that Milyukov is trying to reconcile them with the “Left Cadets” on a platform with a democratic facade and an Octobrist essence.
The various parties’ Duma formulas of procedure with regard to Kasso’s explanation are very interesting. They supply us with accurate material for political analysis, material officially confirmed by the deputies of the various parties. It is analysis that this material usually lacks most of all. It gets lost amid the comments of the daily press or in the pile of the Duma’s verbatim reports. Yet it is well worth dwelling on if we want to understand the true nature of the various parties.
A leading article in Rech declared on the day following the adoption of the formula of no-confidence: “Thus Russian society has obtained from the Duma what it was entitled to expect” (No. 37, February 7). This sounds as though all that “society” had to know was whether the Duma trusts Mr. Kasso!
That is not true. The people and the democrats have to know the motives of no-confidence so as to understand the causes of a development considered abnormal in politics, and be able to find a way out to the normal. Unity of the Cadets, Octobrists and Social-Democrats on just the phrase “we have no confidence” is too little as far as these very serious issues are concerned.
Here is the Octobrists’ formula of procedure:
“The Duma ... considers: (1) all involvement of secondary school pupils in political struggles is ruinous to the spiritual development of Russia’s young forces and harmful to the normal course of the life of society; (2) it is necessary, whenever the authorities are informed in good time of undesirable developments in secondary schools, to take preventive measures and not to wait until developments assume an abnormal character ; (3) emphatically declares against the application to pupils of police measures, such as were adopted on December 10, 1912, without the knowledge of the school authorities, instead of natural educational influence; (4) considers anti-educational the slowness with which the fate of pupils removed from schools is decided on, and expecting this incident to be dealt with immediately in a sense benevolent to the pupils, proceeds to the next business.”
What are the political ideas of this vote?
Politics are harmful at school. The pupils are to blame. But it is their teachers who should punish them and not the police. We are dissatisfied with the government for its lack of “benevolence” and its slowness.
These are anti-democratic ideas. This is liberal opposition, for it implies: let the old system of authority remain, but it should be applied more mildly. You may flog, but within reason, and without publicity.
Look at the Progressist formula of procedure:
“The Duma finds that (1) the Ministry of Education, being in formed of what had lately taken place in the secondary schools of St. Petersburg, adopted an impassive attitude to its duties and failed to protect the secondary schools against incursion by the police; (2) the methods used by police officers, methods which were resorted to without protest on the part of the Ministry of Education and consisted in searching the schools, seizing children and holding them under arrest at police-stations, and in applying impermissible methods of investigation, were utterly unjustifiable, all the more since in this case it was a matter not of safeguarding state security, but of restoring order in the secondary schools; (3) the whole set of measures adopted by the Ministry of Education, measures directed to wards estranging the school from the family, creates, through its callous formalism which hampers the moral and intellectual growth of the young generation, conditions favourable to developments that are abnormal in school life. The Duma considers the explanation offered by the Minister of Education to be unsatisfactory and proceeds to the next business.”
This formula was introduced on January 30, and the Progressists declared there and then that they would vote for the Octobrists provided the latter added no-confidence. We have seen above the results of this haggling.
On what basis could that haggling take place? On the basis of agreement in the main.
The Progressists, too, consider politics in the schools abnormal and they, too, call for “restoring order” (feudal order). They, too, are in opposition in the possessive case—opposition not to the old system of authority but to its application—“impassive, callous”, and so on. In the 1860s Pirogov agreed that there must be flogging, but he insisted on the flogging not being done impassively or callously. The Progressists have no objection to the present social elements “restoring order”, but they advise the latter to do it more “sympathetically”. What progress has been made in our country in five decades!
The Cadets’ formula of procedure:
“Having heard the explanation offered by the Minister of Education and considering: (1) that it shows a complete confusion of the educational point of view with that of the police; (2) that this explanation is a complete denial of the normal foundations on which relations of friendly co-operation can be established between school and family; (3) that the policy of the Ministry, by giving rise to deep resentment among the pupils and to legitimate annoyance in society, itself promotes the creation of an atmosphere making for the early involvement of school youth in political pursuits and hence itself creates conditions which it should prevent from arising; (4) that treating pupils as being guilty of crimes against the state cripples the lives of the most gifted among the rising generation, snatches numerous victims from its ranks and constitutes a threat to the future of Russia, the Duma considers the explanation offered by the Minister to be unsatisfactory and proceeds to the next business.”
Here, too, “early” involvement in politics is condemned but in much milder terms and in a form veiled by phrases. This is an anti-democratic point of view. Octobrists and Cadets alike condemn police measures only because they want prevention instead. The system should prevent meetings, not disperse them. Obviously, such, a reform would only embellish the system but not change it. “We are dissatisfied with the policy of the Ministry,” say the Cadets, and from what they say it follows, exactly as with the Octobrists, that it is possible to wish for a change in this policy without something much more radical.
The Cadets pronounce themselves against the government much more sharply than the Octobrists, and because of the sharp language politically immature elements overlook the complete identity of the liberal, anti-democratic, presentation of the issue by the Cadets and the Octobrists.
The Duma should earnestly teach the people politics. Those who learn their politics from the Cadets are corrupting and not developing their political consciousness.
It is not an accident that the Octobrists, Progressists and Cadets haggled and struck a bargain on a common formula; it is a result of their ideological and political solidarity in the main. Nothing could be more paltry than the policy of the Cadets, who agree to a direct condemnation of politics in the schools for the sake of finding the explanation offered unsatisfactory. But the Cadets agreed to this because they themselves condemn “early” involvement.
The formula of the Trudovik group:
“Whereas: (1) the brute force used on December 9, 1912, against secondary school pupils, which shocked society by the disgraceful participation of the secret police in educational supervision over pupils of secondary schools, was fully a p proved in the explanation offered by Mr. Kasso, the Minister of Education, who sneered maliciously at public opinion; (2) the system of secret police and spying, which is a result of the entire policy of the combined Ministry, and in particular of Kasso, the Minister of Education, leads to complete havoc, and threatens in the future to cause a severe shock to the rising generation, the Duma insists that all those discharged on December 9 should be immediately reinstated and, considering the explanation offered by Kasso, the Minister of Education, to be unsatisfactory, demands his immediate resignation, and proceeds to the next business.”
This formula is, strictly speaking, a markedly liberal one; but it does not contain what a democrat, as distinct from a liberal, should have said. A liberal, too, may find it disgraceful to enlist the assistance of the secret police in educational supervision, but a democrat should say (and teach the people) that no “supervisors” have a right to encroach on the free organisation of political circles and talks. A liberal, too, may condemn “the entire policy of the combined Ministry”, but a democrat in Russia should make clear that there are certain general conditions by virtue of which any other Ministry would have had to pursue practically the same policy.
The democracy of the Trudovik formula shows only in its tenor, in the sentiment of its authors. There is no denying that sentiment is a political symptom. But it would not be amiss to insist that the formula of procedure should contain a well-thought-out idea and not merely “heart-warming” sentiment.
The Social-Democrats’ formula of procedure:
“Having heard the explanation offered by the Minister of Education and considering that it indicates: (1) a determination to combat the natural and encouraging desire of school youth to extend their mental horizons through self-education and to hold comradely intercourse; 2) a justification of the system of official formalism, spying and police investigation that is being implanted in the higher, secondary and elementary schools, a system which cripples youth mentally and morally, ruthlessly stamps out all signs of independence of thought and character, and results in an epidemic of suicides among pupils, the Duma considers the explanation unsatisfactory. Considering, at the same time, that (1) there is an inseparable connection between the domination of the police standpoint in the matter of public education and the domination of the secret police over the whole of Russian life, the suppression of all forms of organised and independent activity by the citizens, and the latter’s lack of rights, and that (2) only a radical change in the political organisation and the system of state administration can free the citizens from police fetters and also free the school from them, the Duma proceeds to the next business.”
This formula, too, can hardly be considered impeccable. One cannot help wishing it bad presented the matter in more popular language and in greater detail and regretting that it does not stress the legitimacy of engaging in politics, and so on and so forth.
However, our criticism of all the formulas is by no means aimed at details of formulation, but exclusively at the fundamental political ideas of their authors. A democrat should have said the important thing, namely, that political circles and talks are natural and to be welcomed. That is the point. All condemnation of involvement in politics, even if only of “early” involvement, is hypocrisy and obscurantism. A democrat should have raised the level of the question from the “combined Ministry” to the political system. He should have pointed out the “inseparable connection”, firstly, with the “domination of the secret police” and, secondly, with the domination of the class of big land lords of the feudal type in the economic sphere.
 See pp. 496–97 of this volume.—Ed.
 This text was introduced at the January 25 sitting. At the sitting of February 1, Clause 2 was edited as follows: “It is noted with reference to this particular case that a formal and indifferent attitude to pupils prevails in secondary schools, that teaching staffs are estranged from the families, and that it is necessary to establish a general benevolent view on the rising generation.” —Lenin
 The explanation offered by Kasso, the Minister of Education, in the Duma was prompted by a question of forty-four members of the Duma tabled on December 14 (27), 1912, regarding the arrest of thirty-four secondary-school pupils in St. Petersburg during a meeting at Witmer’s private gymnasium. The pupils were suspect ed by the secret police of being members of an illegal political group. The question was discussed at five sittings of the Duma. On February 6 (19), 1913, the majority voted for a formula of procedure to the next business that considered the tsarist Minister’s explanation unsatisfactory.