V. I.   Lenin

What Could the Cadets Have Counted On When They Withdrew from the Cabinet?[1]

Written: Written on July 3 (16), 1917
Published: Published in Proletarskoye Dyelo No. 2, July 28 (15), 1917. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 153-154.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The question arises quite naturally. To correctly meet events with definite tactics, we must understand them correctly. How, then, are we to understand the Cadet withdrawal?

Spite? Disagreement in principle over the Ukraine? Of course not. It would be ridiculous to suspect the Cadets of loyalty to principles, or the bourgeoisie of the ability to do something out of spite.

The Cadet withdrawal can only be understood as a calculated move. What are their calculations?

To govern a country which has carried out a major revolution and is still in a state of unrest, and to govern it during a world-wide imperialist war, you need the initiative and scope of a truly revolutionary class—massively courageous, historically great, wholeheartedly enthusiastic. Either you suppress this class by force, as the Cadets have been preaching for some time, since May 6 in fact, or you entrust your self to its leadership. Either you are in alliance with imperialist capital, then you must take the offensive, you must be an obedient servant of capital, you must sell yourself to it, you must throw overboard the utopian ideas of abolishing landed property without compensation (see Birzhevka for Lvov’s speeches against Chernov’s programme); or you are against imperialist capital, then you must immediately propose precise peace terms to all nations, because they have all been exhausted by the war, you must dare to raise, and be able to raise, the banner of world proletarian revolution against capital, and to do so not in words but in deeds, to further the revolution with the greatest determination in Russia herself.

The Cadets are wily businessmen in trade, in finance, in safeguarding capital, as well as in politics. They have correctly taken into account the fact that the situation is objectively a revolutionary one. They agree to reforms and enjoy sharing power with the reformists, the Tseretelis and Chernovs. But reforms will not help. There is no way out of the crisis, the war and economic disruption, through reforms.

From their class point of view, from the imperialist exploiters’ point of view, the Cadets have calculated correctly. They seem to say: “By withdrawing, we present an ultimatum. We know that at present the Tseretelis and Chernovs do not trust the truly revolutionary class, that at present they do not want to conduct a truly revolutionary policy. Let’s frighten them. To be without the Cadets means being without the ’aid’ of world-wide Anglo-American capital, means raising the banner of revolution against the latter as well. The Tseretelis and Chernovs wouldn’t do that, they wouldn’t dare! They will give in to us!

If not, then even if a revolution against capital starts, it will fail and we shall come back.”

That is how the Cadets calculate. We repeat: from the point of view of the exploiting class, their calculations are correct.

Were the Tseretelis and Chernovs to take the point of view of the exploited class and not that of the vacillating petty bourgeoisie, they would reply to the Cadets’ correct calculations by correct adherence to the revolutionary proletariat’s policy.


[1] On July 2 (15), hearing of the miscarriage of the Juno offensive, the Cadet Ministers Shingaryov, Manuilov and Shakhovskoi resigned from the coalition Provisional Government on the pretext that they disagreed with the government’s stand on the Ukrainian question. In a declaration to the Ukrainian Central Rada, the Provisional Government had promised to appoint by mutual agreement a General Secretariat to administer the Ukraine, while

  the Cadets insisted that the Ukrainian question be settled solely by the Constituent Assembly.

The true reason for the Cadets’ resignation was their desire to provoke a government crisis with an eye to bringing pressure to bear on the “socialist” Ministers and securing their consent to a Cadet counter-revolutionary programme: the disarming of the Red Guards, withdrawal of the revolutionary troops from Petrograd, and prohibition of the Bolshevik Party.

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