V. I.   Lenin

Results of the Elections



Covering Up the Defeat

It remains for us to examine the election returns for the worker curia, which is the most important.

No one has had, or has, any doubt that this curia is on the side of the Social-Democrats. The fight waged here was not against the Narodniks, among whom resistance to Narodnik liquidationism (Pochin[4] in Paris and the Popular Socialists in St. Petersburg) or Narodnik otzovism did not occur, and this lack of resistance to decadent trends reduced the Left Narodniks to nil.

The fight in the worker curia was waged only between the Marxists and the liberal labour politicians, the liquidators. In January 1912 the Marxists proclaimed frankly and clearly, openly and without any despicable evasions,   that agreements in the worker curia (and in it alone) with the destroyers of the workers’ Party were impermissible.[1]

This fact is common knowledge. It is also common knowledge that the liquidators’ August conference was described even by the conciliator Plekhanov as “pitiful” and liquidationist (despite the vows of Nasha Zarya), and its resolutions as “diplomacy”, or deceit, to put it plainly.

What did the election returns show?

Did they, or did they not, provide objective data as to the relation of the January and August statements to reality? Whom did the working-class electors prove to be supporting?

There are very precise statistical data on this, which the liquidators are trying (in vain!) to obscure, to hide, to drown with outcries and abuse.

Beginning with the Second Duma (the First Duma was boycotted by most of the Social-Democrats), there are exact data on the number of deputies to the Duma from the worker curia, distributed among the various “trends” in the Social-Democratic Party. Here they are:

Deputies elected to the Duma from the worker curia:

  Mensheviks Bolsheviks Percentage of
Second Duma (1907) . . 12 11 47
Third ” (1908–12) 4 4 50
Fourth (1912) . . 3 6 67

These figures speak for themselves!

In 1907 the Bolsheviks bad a majority, registered officially, in the Party (105 Bolshevik and 97 Menshevik delegates). This means that the 47 per cent in the worker curia (the entire group comprised 18 Bolsheviks+36 Mensheviks=54) made up about 52 per cent in the workers’ Party.

In 1912, for the first time, all the six curia deputies were Bolsheviks. It is known that those six gubernias are the principal industrial gubernias. It is also known that a far greater proportion of the proletariat is concentrated in them than in the other gubernias. It is obvious, therefore, and has   been tally proved by a comparison with 1907, that 67 per cent in the worker curia mean more than 70 per cent in the workers’ Party.

During the Third Duma, when the intelligentsia deserted the workers’ Party and the liquidators justified this, the workers abandoned the liquidators. The liquidator Belousov’s flight from the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma, and the turn of the whole group (three-quarters Menshevik) from Menshevism to anti-liquidationism[2] were signs and sure indications of the fact that the same process was going on among the workers. And the elections to the Fourth Duma proved this.

That is why Oskarov, Martov, Cherevanin, Levitsky, etc., are incredibly indignant in Nasha Zarya, flinging hundreds of the most Purishkevichist “compliments” at an alleged circle that is alleged to be sectarian and Leninist.

Sectarian circle indeed! A “circle” that in 1908–12 got from the worker curia steadily increasing support—reaching 67 per cent of that curia in the Fourth Duma! They are clumsy polemicists, are the liquidators. They abuse[3] us as strongly as they can, but the result is the most flattering compliment for us.

Settling controversial issues by an abundance of outcries, abuse and groundless assertions is just like a circle of intellectuals. The workers prefer something different, namely, objective data. And in Russia, her present political position   being what it is, there is not, and cannot be, an objective measure of the strength and influence of a particular trend among the mass of the workers other than the working-class press and the worker curia of the Duma.

Therefore, liquidator gentlemen, the more you clamour and rail in Nasha Zarya and Luch, the more calmly we shall ask the workers to point out an objective criterion of connection with the masses other than the working-class press and the worker curia in the Duma.

Let the readers who are being deafened with cries about the “sectarian” “Lenin circle” and so on ponder calmly these objective data on the working-class press and the worker curia in the Duma. These objective data show that the liquidators are shouting to cover up their complete defeat.

But it is particularly instructive to compare the coming into being of Luch, which appeared on the day of elections owing to private initiative, and the coming into being of Pravda. The April surge of the working-class movement was one of the greatest historic surges of the workers’ mass movement in Russia. Even according to estimates made by factory-owners, hundreds of thousands of workers joined in the movement. And that movement itself createdPravda” as its by-product—first by strengthening Zvezda and converting it from a weekly into a newspaper appearing every two days, and then by increasing workers’ money collections for Pravda to 76 in March and 227 in April (taking into account only group contributions by workers).

We have here a classical example of how a movement that has absolutely nothing to do with reformism, brings as a by-product either reforms or concessions, or an extension of bounds, and so on.

The reformists are betraying the working-class movement when they restrict its great scope by reformist slogans (as do our liquidators). The opponents of reformism, however, not only prove loyal to the uncurtailed slogans of the proletariat, but also turn out to be the better “practical workers”, for it is precisely broad scope and uncurtailed slogans that ensure the strength which yields, as a by-product, either a concession or a reform, or an extension of bounds, or at least a temporary necessity for the upper ranks to tolerate a disagreeable increase in the activity of the lower ranks.

In 1908–12, while the liquidators were busy reviling the “underground”, justifying “flight” from it, and chattering about an “open party”, the entire worker curia left them, and they were unable to use the first, and great, upsurge of the April–May tide!

Mr. Martov in Nasha Zarya admits this circumstance which is so sad for him, couching his admission in particularly amusing terms. He reviles and describes as nonentities the Plekhanov and Vperyod groups, which the liquidators themselves were depicting only yesterday as “centres” and trends, in defiance of our demand that only Russian organisations should be taken into account. And Martov admits bitterly and angrily, amid a torrent of venomous (venomous in a Burenin style) words, that “Lenin’s” “sectarian circle” “stood its ground “and “is even taking the offensive”, “having entrenched itself in fields that have nothing in common with the underground” (Nasha Zarya, op. cit., p. 74).

But this whole admission of Martov’s evokes a smile. It is human nature that when the enemy makes a mistake we rejoice maliciously, but when he takes the right step we sometimes get into a childish temper.

Thank you for the compliment you were forced to pay us, liberal liquidator! Since the end of 1908 we have been insisting on the use of open forms of the movement, and in the spring of 1909 we broke with a number of friends[5] over it. And if in these “fields” we proved to be a force, it was only because we did not sacrifice content for form. To use the form in good time, to seize hold of the April upsurge, and to win the sympathy, so precious to a Marxist, of the worker curia, it was essential not to renounce the old, not to treat it in a renegade fashion, but firmly to uphold its ideas, its traditions, its material substrata. It was those ideas that imbued the April upsurge, it was they that predominated in the worker curia in 1912, and only those who were loyal to them in all fields and all forms could advance in step both with that upsurge and with that curia.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 17, p. 469.—Ed.

[2] The liquidator Oskarov admits this indisputable fact in an amusing manner, saying that the Bolsheviks “had their way: they split the group at the critical moment, in fact if not in form” (Nasha Zarya, op. cit., p. 3)—meaning the Third Duma group. What he calls a “split” is either the liquidator Belousov’s flight, or the fact that two members of the group were on a liquidationist newspaper and eight on an anti-liquidationist one, while the rest were neutral. —Lenin

[3] The liquidators most readily raise a hullaballoo about St. Petersburg, bypassing the results of the elections for the worker curia, as if to say, “For shame!” It is a shame, of course, gentlemen! The shame is on those against whom a mandate was adopted that had been printed beforehand, i.e., approved by the organisation. It is disgraceful to back a person against a mandate. And it was still more disgraceful to refuse to cast lots when the result turned out to be 3 : 3. P., a Pravda man well known in St. Petersburg, plainly suggested casting lots to the liquidator M., but the latter rejected it!! Shame on the liquidators for the St. Petersburg elections! —Lenin

[4] Pochin (L’Initiative)—a Narodnik-liquidationist periodical published by a group of Socialist-Revolutionaries. Its only issue appeared in Paris in June 1912.

[5] This refers to the decisions of the Fifth All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. held in December 1908 and of the enlarged editorial board meeting of Proletary in June 1909 (see “The C.P.S.U. in Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences and Plenary Meetings of the Central Committee, Russ. ed., Part One, 1954, pp. 195–205, 212-32).

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