V. I.   Lenin

An Incorrect Appraisal (Luch on Maklakov)[2]

Written: Written at the beginning of June 1913
Published: First published in 1937 in Lenin Miscellany XXX. Signed: W.. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 132-134.
Translated: The Late George Hanna
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

...programmes and resolutions of the liberals.[1]

In the Luch (No.  122) editorial we come across a profoundly incorrect appraisal of this important speech. “Cadet doctrinairism” is what Luch saw in it. Deputy Maklakov is likened to an animal that brushes out its tracks with its tail. “The numerous parentheses in his speech completely destroyed its oppositional character”—and Luch quotes the words of Mr. V. Maklakov to the effect that “reaction is an historical law”, that one should (according to Bismarck’s theory) be able to distinguish moments when it is necessary to rule in liberal fashion and moments when despotic rule is essential.

Such speeches could be made by a professor,” concludes Luch, “but not by a politician upholding the right of democracy to self-determination” [?].

No, Mr. V. Maklakov is by no means a doctrinaire and his speech is not that of a professor. And it is nothing less than ridiculous to expect V. Maklakov to uphold the rights of democracy. He is a liberal-bourgeois businessman who has fearlessly exposed the very “guts” of the policy of his class. Mr. V. Maklakov made the accusation that the government “could have comprehended [when the revolution had died down I how to stamp out the revolution entirely” but failed to comprehend.

When a government fights against a revolution it is right, that is its duty,” exclaimed Mr. V. Maklakov, and added, “the same will be true of the revolutions when it is victorious, it will fight against counter-revolution” (here this   “experienced” orator made an amusing slip, using, for some unknown reason, only the future tense.) Mr. V. Maklakov repeated several times that he blamed the government “not for fighting disorder and revolution, but for fighting against law and order itself”.

Mr. V. Maklakov compared Stolypin to a fireman who breaks the windows of a burning house.

From this it can be seen that the predominant tone and substance of this noteworthy speech are not a professorial stunt or doctrinairism but whole-hearted, persistent counter-revolution. It is all the more important to deal at length with this since the newspaper hubbub over petty details of the “conflict” so zealously hides the substance of it. The policy of liberalism and its class roots cannot be understood unless this, its typical and fundamental feature, is mastered.

Luch displays an amazing and amusing lack of understanding of this matter when it exclaims: “Is it not the worst form of doctrinairism to worship the statesmanship of Bismarck who, whatever is said about him, always remained a man of blood and iron?”

What has this to do with doctrinairism, gentlemen? You are right off the mark. V. Maklakov said as clearly as it could be said that he approves “fighting disorder and revolution”, approves of “the fireman”, and, it goes without saying, V. Maklakov knows very well what that means—blood and iron. V. Maklakov said as clearly as it could be said that this was the very policy he favoured—provided it succeeded! You have to break windows, he preaches, don’t be afraid of breaking windows, we are not sentimental people, we are not professors, not doctrinaires, but when you break windows, do it as Bismarck did, i.e., successfully, strengthening the alliance of the bourgeoisie and the landowners.

And you, says V. Maklakov to the government, you break Windows for no reason, like a street lout, not like a fireman.

Bismarck represented the counter-revolutionary landowners of Germany. He realised he could save them (for a few decades) only by a sound alliance with the counter-revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie. He succeeded in forming this alliance because the resistance of the proletariat was weak and lucky wars helped solve the current problem—that of the national unification of Germany.

We have our counter-revolutionary landowners. And we have our counter-revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie. V. Maklakov is their foremost representative. He showed by his speech that he is prepared to do any amount of bowing and scraping before Purishkevich & Co. This, however, is not enough for the “marriage” to be a success. The current historical task must be fulfilled, and ours is not national unification (of which we have more than enough...) but the agrarian problem ... at a time when the resistance of the proletariat is stronger.

About this, the pitiful liberal, V. Maklakov, who pines for a Russian Bismarck, was unable to say a single articulate word.


[1] The first page of the manuscript has not been found.—Ed.

[2] Until 1954 this article was known under the beading given by the editors “Apropos of Cadet Maklakov’s Speech”. In 1954 the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C., C.P.S.U. received a number of documents from the Cracow-Poronin Lenin archive, among them Lenin’s list of articles written for Pravda, from which it was established that Lenin had entitled this article “An Incorrect Appraisal (Luch on Maklakov)”.

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