V. I.   Lenin

What Is Worrying the Liberals

Published: Put Pravdy No 29, March 6, 1914. Published according to the text in Put Pravdy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1972, Moscow, Volume 20, pages 136-137.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Joe Fineberg
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.

In connection with V. Maklakov’s Duma speeches and his press statements in favour of the “new” plan for combining the tactics of the Cadets and Octobrists, there has of late been a good deal of talk about the revival of liberalism. The Zemstvo banquet in Moscow has lent colour to these rumours.

It is noteworthy that particular emphasis has been laid on the fact that even V. Maklakov, that most moderate of liberals, with a leaning towards Octobrism, has lost “faith in the possibility of a way being found out of the impasse without revolutionary upheavals and cataclysms”. This, literally, is what is written in Rech, the chief organ of the liberals, by Mr. Shingaryov who, together with Mr. Milyukov, pretends to criticise the “Right” Cadets, V. Maklakov and P. Struve, “from the left”.

But the disputes among the Cadets have been most trifling. They have been arguing whether the proposal made to the Octobrists about joining the opposition is new or not, and whether that proposal, which has been made a hundred times and never led to anything, is worth repeating for the hundred and first time. Behind these absolutely meaningless disputes one can discern the liberals’ chief and common cause of worry, which hinders the cause of Russia’s liberation only slightly less than the Octobrists’ vacillations. You gentlemen of the liberal fold, who are arguing all the time with the Octobrists and about the Octobrists, should take a good look at yourselves!

Take the small political encyclopaedia issued by Rech and entitled The Year-Book for 1914. Among its contributors are the most prominent and most responsible Cadets, the acknowledged leaders of the party, headed by Milyukov and   Shingaryov. In the survey of “Our Public Life” (by Mr. Izgoyev), we read the following appraisal of the fundamental issues in Russian home policies:

By its excessive zeal the Administration is only weakening the anti-revolutionary forces within the community.”

Don’t you think it absurd, Messrs. the Cadets, to hurl thunderbolts at the Octobrists, when the most genuine Octobrism is preached in your own publications?

A result of the Administration’s “hopeless and misguided” struggle against educational institutions, writes Mr. Izgoyev, is:

a corruption of life, leading to the weakening of the purely public [!] activity, which produces the spiritual antidotes to ideas that are really a menace to the country”.

Now this is a tone worthy, not only of an Octobrist, but even of a prosecutor, a Shcheglovitov.[1] And as if to illustrate what these “ideas that are a menace to the country” are, our liberal says:

One can understand [from the point of view of the corruption of life by the misguided Administration] why at workers’ meetings and in the trade unions the Bolsheviks gain the upper hand over the more level-headed and cultured leaders [!?] of the working-class movement.”

This political appraisal of the liquidators is uttered and reiterated by the liberals times without number. As a matter of fact, we have here nothing more nor less than a political alliance between the liberals and the liquidators. In turning their backs on the “underground” and advocating a legal party the liquidators are doing in the ranks of the workers exactly what the liberals want them to do.


[1] Shcheglovitov, I. G. (1861–1918)—a big landlord, extreme reactionary. Minister of Justice from 1906 to 1915. Pursued a Black-Hundred policy and openly subjected the law courts to control by the police authorities. Was one of the organisers of the military tribunals, the trial of the Social-Democratic members of the Second and Fourth Dumas, the Beilis case, etc. The term “Shcheglovitov justice” became generic for legal frame-up and tyranny in tsarist Russia.

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