Written: Written on May 5 (18), 1913
Published: Published on May 15, 1913 in Pravda No. 110. Printed from the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 238-239.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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What the Social-Democrats, representing the working class, think of the Fourth Duma is well known. Their assessment is based on the class character of the landowner and landowner-bourgeois Duma, and also on the character of the government which is trying to make some kind of deal with the ruling classes in this Duma.
But it is instructive also to look at how this Duma is assessed by the Right itself, and particularly by the landowners.
In this respect, it is interesting to read an interview carried by southern papers with Mr. Sinadino, mayor of Kishinev, and a landowner who was a Nationalist in the Third Duma, and in the Fourth is considered a member of the “Centre” party, that is, to the right of the Octobrists. There seems to be no point in looking around for a more reliable pillar of the Establishment! And here is his assessment:
“The Fourth Duma is a mere fiction. The men on the Council of State have no consideration at all for the representatives of the people, and act, we should say, against their will. I repeat, the Duma is a mere fiction, and in such conditions can give the country nothing. I can find no expression in Russian to describe the activities of the Council of State. It is what the French call ‘sabotage’....”
This offended landowner is telling such truths about the Duma and about our government that the workers, ought to look at them closely. In general, as readers know, the democrats have a chance to hear a truthful opinion about the system and “order” of dominant reaction from the reactionary gentlemen only when these reactionaries fall out.
One landowner (or several landowners) feels offended— and you get such a description of the landowners’ “system” of state administration and state structure that you might think the description had been taken from a Social-Democratic leaflet!
Both the Fourth and the Third Duma, Mr. Offended Right-wing Landowner, are not fictions, because they provide the government, for example, with approval for its budget. But the point is that in spite of the whole landowning class and all the top bourgeoisie helping the government, it is not able to make any headway!
The possibility for an alliance between the government and the landowners and the bourgeoisie has been created. The Duma is doing all it can to bring about such an alliance. And yet nothing even remotely resembling a constitution has been produced. The old state system is still there. The Ministers likewise are people who “tremble” (to use Sinadino’s words) “for their own future”, evidently not knowing what will happen to them tomorrow, what their orders will be tomorrow.
All the “activity” of the Duma with the Council of State, all the liberal wailing about the hopelessness of reforms, even the most modest, the most Octobrist, the most insignificant—and, finally, the frank admissions of the offended landowner-“legislator”—all show that constitutional illusions and reformist aspirations in present-day Russia are quite groundless.