V. I.   Lenin

“The Crux of the Matter”

Published: Pravda No. 56, March 8, 1913. Signed: V. I.. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 590-591.
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

We have seen that Chasles, the French reactionary quoted by Mr. Milyukov, correctly considers that the agrarian question is the “crux of the matter” confronting Russia.[1]

Mr. Milyukov quoted a clever statement by a clever reactionary but he does not understand it at all!

Can the peasant whom you [i.e., the Octobrists and the government, for it is to them that Mr. Milyukov talks!] have brought into this body with your own hands be made dependent? After all, he speaks of the land from this rostrum, and he says the same thing as the independent peasant said in the First and Second Dumas. There is no element in Russian life, gentlemen, more independent or more stable than the Russian peasant.” (Applause on the right and voices: “Hear, hear”.)

Those handclaps must have come from the hypocritical Cadets alone, for everyone knows, firstly, that in the Third and Fourth Dumas the peasants have been saying not quite “the same thing” but something weaker than they said in the First and Second Dumas; and secondly, there is in Russian life an element that is more independent and more stable. Mr. Milyukov himself was compelled to admit in his speech that it is the workers who have done “most” for political liberty in Russia. Or can “independence” be measured with a different yardstick?

But this is not the point. The point is, can the interests of 130,000 landlords and of the mass of the peasantry be reconciled now? Mr. Milyukov “talked round and round” this question to evade an answer.

But Mr. S. Litovtsev, hired by Rech to praise P. Milyukov, wrote that Milyukov’s speech had

dispelled the fog shrouding this sharp and debatable question. To many people, universal suffrage is still a sort of bogey, the height of revolutionism”.

There you have yet another specimen of phrase mongering!

Learn from the reactionary Chasles, liberal wind-bags! The crux of the matter lies in the agrarian question. Can the interests of 130,000 landlord families and 40,000,000 peasant families be reconciled on this question now? Yes or no?

That is the “crux” of the matter as far as universal suffrage is concerned, Mr. Milyukov, while you corrupt the political consciousness of the people by muddling up with phrases this main point, which is obvious to any intelligent person.

If your answer to the question is yes, I shall refute you by means of your own admission that the peasants in the Third and Fourth Dumas have been saying (if less emphatically) the “same thing” as they said in the First and Second Dumas.

If, however, your answer is no, then all your talk about the conciliatory, non-“one-sided” character of universal suffrage in the Russia of today falls to the ground.

And your learned references to Bismarck are sheer childishness, for Bismarck “granted” universal suffrage at a time when the bourgeois development of Germany had already reconciled the interests of the landlords and all the well-to-do peasants, and even a section of the middle peasants.

The shrewd reader may ask: does it not follow that universal suffrage is impossible in Russia? No, we will answer the shrewd reader, it only follows that a reformist point of view is impossible in Russia.


[1] See pp. 588–89 of this volume.—Ed.

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