V. I.   Lenin

The Cadet Maklakov and the Social-Democrat Petrovsky

Published: Za Pravdu No. 47, November 29, 1913. Signed: M.. Published according to the Za Pravdu text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 511-512.
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

It is some considerable time now since the Social-Democrat Petrovsky spoke in the State Duma on the question of the rules and was deprived of the right to speak by the Chairman for “unparliamentary language” addressed to the Minister, and so forth. As a “topic of the day” in the narrow sense of the term this matter is perhaps out of date. But the fact of the matter is that the speeches delivered by Petrovsky and the Cadet Maklakov deserve more attention than ordinary “news of the day”.

The Cadet Maklakov spoke in the State Duma on the question of the new rules. This gentleman was the author of the rules and the spokesman for the Rules Committee. On a number of questions the Cadet Maklakov spoke against the Cadet group in the Duma, and with the aid of the Octobrists and the Rights secured the adoption of most reactionary rules directed against the opposition.

This is not new. It has long been common knowledge that V. Maklakov is a favourite of the Octobrists and that he is an Octobrist at heart. But the extremely important fact of our public life that is revealed by this long-known circumstance deserves the closest attention.

Here we have one of the most prominent Cadets himself suppressing the freedom of the Duma with the aid of the Rights and Octobrists on a question on which the Duma is relatively less impotent than on other questions. The Social-Democrat Petrovsky was a thousand times right in speaking sharply against such an old hand at shady politics.

But what is the main point here? Was V. Maklakov’s conduct crooked because Mr. V. A. Maklakov is himself crooked? Of course, not, and that is not the point, anyway.

Just as the Beilis case[1] was interesting and important because it very vividly revealed what is behind our home politics, its behind-the-scenes “machinery”, etc., so this minor (relatively) case of V. Maklakov’s speech against die Cadets and against the freedom of the Duma reveals for the hundredth and hundred-and-first time what is really behind the policy of the party of our Russian liberal bourgeoisie.

The struggle between the Cadets and the Octobrists is a struggle between competitors—that is why it is so sharp and unscrupulous. It was possible for V. Maklakov, favourite of the Octobrists and suppressor of the freedom of the Duma, to become a “leading light” among the Cadets because, and only because, the Cadets have the same class basis as the Octobrists. They are two different wings, or representatives of different trends, of the liberal bourgeoisie, who are more afraid of democracy than they are of the Purishkeviches.

This is material. This is important. This is the quintessence of politics. This is the reason our bourgeoisie is astoundingly impotent politically, its economic power not withstanding.

The Social-Democrat Petrovsky performed his duty as a democrat in opposing V. Maklakov, the suppressor of the freedom of the Duma. There will be no freedom in Russia until the democratic masses learn to despise the Maklakovs as well as the parties that produce gentlemen of this type.


[1] The Beilis case—the trial of the Jew Beilis, organised for provocative purposes by the tsarist government in 1913 in Kiev. Beilis was falsely accused of the ritual murder of a Christian boy, Yushchinsky (the murder was actually committed by the Black Hundreds). The tsarist government staged this trial to stir up anti-Semitism and make use of anti-Jewish pogroms to divert the attention of the masses from the revolutionary movement that was growing through out the country. The trial aroused public indignation; in a number of towns workers’ demonstrations of protest were held. Beilis was acquitted.

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