V. I.   Lenin

Results of the Elections



Changes Within the June Third System

The data quoted above provide interesting evidence of the evolution of the political parties, groupings and trends among the landlords and the bourgeoisie in the period of counter-revolution. The composition of the Third and Fourth Dumas hardly tells us anything about the bourgeois (peasant) or worker democrats, for the simple reason that the June Third system was devised with the express aim of ruling out the democrats. In the same way, the non-Russian parties, i.e., those not representing the “dominant” nationality, have been specially oppressed and stifled by the June Third system.

We shall therefore pick out only the Rights, the Octobrists and the Russian liberals—parties which have made them selves thoroughly comfortable within the June Third system and are protected by it against the democrats—and look at the changes that have occurred in these parties.

  Third Duma Fourth
Comparison of Fourth
Duma and beginning
of Third Duma
1908 1912
Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144 148 185 +41, i e., +28 percent
Octobrists . . . . . . . . . . . . 148 120 98 –50 ” –34 ” ”
Liberals (Progressists and Cadets) 78 88 107 +29 ” +37 ” ”

This shows clearly how the so-called “Centre” is dwindling among the privileged strata and how their Right and liberal wings are gaining strength. It is interesting to note that the number of liberals among the landlords and the bourgeoisie is growing faster than that of the Rights,   despite the emergency measures taken by the government to rig the elections in favour of the Rights.

There are those who, in view of these facts, like to talk pompously about the aggravation of the contradictions of the June Third system, about the coming triumph of moderate bourgeois progressism, and so on. They forget, firstly, that while the number of liberals is growing among the land lords, and above all among the bourgeoisie, it is the Right wing of the liberals, which bases its policy entirely on “conciliation” with the Rights, that is growing fastest of all. We shall deal with this in detail in a moment. Secondly, they forget that the vaunted “move to the left of the bourgeoisie” is merely a symptom of the real move to the left of the democrats who alone are capable of providing the motive forces for a serious change in the regime. Thirdly, they forget that the June Third system is specially intended to take advantage, within very broad limits, of the antagonism between the liberal bourgeoisie and the reactionary nature of the landlords, there existing an even more profound common antagonism between these and all democrats, particularly the working class.

To proceed. Our liberals like to pretend that the Octobrists’ defeat was due to the “manipulation of the elections”, which took away support from this “party of the latest government orders”, and so on. Of course, in so doing the liberals themselves pose as an honest opposition, as independent people and, indeed, “democrats”, while the distinction between a Maklakov and the Octobrists is in fact perfectly illusory.

Look at the changes that have occurred between the Third and Fourth Dumas compared with those between the beginning and end of the Third Duma. You will see that in the Third Duma the Octobrist Party lost a greater number of its members (28) than in the Fourth Duma elections (22). This, of course, does not mean that there was no “manipulation of the elections”, for it was done on the most reckless scale, especially against the democrats. What it does mean is that despite manipulation of the elections in every sort of way, and even despite government pressure and “politics” in general, a process of party demarcation is going on among the propertied classes of Russia, the feudal-   reactionary Right wing of the counter-revolution becoming demarcated from the liberal-bourgeois wing of the same counter-revolution.

The distinctions between the various groups and factions of the Right-wing and Octobrist Duma majority (Rights, nationalists, moderate Rights, the “Centre”, Right Octobrists, and so on) are as unstable, indefinite, accidental, and often artificially constructed, as the distinctions within the Octobrist-liberal majority (Left Octobrists, Progressists, Cadets). What characterises the period we are passing through is not at all that the allegedly independent (Maklakov, of all people!) Constitutional-Democrat is forcing out the Octobrists who are dependent on the government. This is a silly liberal tale.

The characteristic thing is that genuine class parties are in course of formation and that, in particular, the party of counter-revolutionary liberalism is becoming consolidated under cover of noisy oppositional exclamations and honeyed talk about “reconciliation of the government and the country”.

The liberal press, which is the most widespread in Russia, is doing its utmost to gloss over this process. We shall there fore turn once more to the precise data of the Duma statistics. Let us remember that we must judge parties, as well as individuals, by their deeds and not by their words. As far as deeds are concerned, the Cadets and Progressists make common cause on all the more important issues, and both groups made common cause with the Octobrists in the Third and Fourth Dumas, and in the recent elections (Yekaterinoslav Gubernia: the Rodzyanko-Cadet bloc!) on a whole series of issues.

Let us now look at the data concerning the three parties.

  Third Duma Fourth Duma Comparison of Fourth
Duma and beginning
of Third Duma
1908 1912
Octobrists . . . . . 148 120 98 –50. i. e., –34 per cent
Progressists . . . . 25 36 48 +23 ” +92 ” ”
Cadets . . . . . . 53 52 59 +6 ” +11 ” ”

We see an enormous and steady decrease of the Octobrists; a slight decrease, and then a small increase, of the Cadets; and an enormous and steady increase of the Progressists, who have almost doubled their numbers in five years.

If we take the data for 1908 reported by Mr. Milyukov in Yezhegodnik Rechi [1] for 1912, p. 77, we shall see the picture in even bolder relief. Mr. Milyukov considers that in the Third Duma in 1908 there were 154 Octobrists, 23 Progressists and 56 Cadets. Comparing the Fourth Duma with this, the increase in the number of Cadets is quite negligible and the number of Progressists is more than double.

In 1908 the numerical strength of the Progressists was less than half that of the Cadets. Today it is over 80 per cent of that of the Cadets.

Thus we arrive at the indisputable fact that the most characteristic feature of Russian liberalism during the counter-revolution (1908-12) is the tremendous growth of Progressism.

And who are the Progressists?

Both by composition and ideology, they are a cross-breed of Octobrists and Cadets.

In the Third Duma the Progressists still called themselves Peaceful Renovators, and one of their leaders, the counter revolutionary nobleman Lvov, was a Cadet in the First Duma. The number of Progressists in the Third Duma in creased, as we have seen, from 25 to 36, i.e., by 11; of these 11 deputies, 9 came over to the Progressists from other par ties, namely, 1 from the Cadets 2 from the moderate Rights, 1 from the nationalists and 5 from the Octobrists.

The rapid growth of the Progressists among the political exponents of Russian liberalism, and the success of Vekhi in “society” are two sides of the same medal. The Progressists did in practical politics what Vekhi advocated in theory as it spat at the revolution, repudiated democracy, extolled the dirty enrichment of the bourgeoisie as God’s work on earth, and so on and so forth.

In orating about reconciliation of the government and the country, the Cadet Maklakov merely sings the praise of what the Progressists are doing.

The further we move away from 1905 and 1906, the more obvious it becomes how very correct the Bolsheviks were at that time in exposing the Cadets when they were most exult ant over their “victories”, and in showing the true nature of the Cadet Party[2] which is now being more and more glaringly revealed by the, whole course of events.

The Russian democrats cannot win a single victory unless they drastically undermine the Cadets’ “prestige” among the masses. Conversely, the virtual fusion of the Cadets with Vekhi and the Progressists is a condition for, and a sign of, the strengthening and consolidation of the democratic movement under the leadership of the proletariat.


[1] Rech Yearbook.—Tr.

[2] See present edition, Vol. 10, pp. 199–276.—Ed.

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