First published in Pravda No. 92, July 10 (June 27), 1917.
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 134-136.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Our near-socialist Ministers are developing near-incredible energy. Peshekhonov has declared that “the resistance of the capitalists has apparently been broken” and that everything we have here in Holy Russia will be “equitably” distributed. Skobelev has declared that the capitalists will have to give up 100 per cent of their profits. Tsereteli has declared that the offensive in this imperialist war is the most righteous thing from the point of view of both democracy and socialism.
But Minister Chernov has without a doubt outdone everyone in these manifestations of miraculous energy. At the last meeting of the Provisional Government, Chernov made the Cadet gentlemen hear his report on the general policy of the department entrusted to him, and said he was introducing as many as ten Bills!
Surely that was a miracle of revolutionary energy. Less than six weeks have passed since May 6, and yet as many as ten Bills have been promised in this short period! And what Bills! The ministerial Dyelo Naroda reports that these Bills “in their totality encompass all the principal aspects of the economic activity of the countryside”.
“All aspects”—no more no less. What a whopper!
The only suspicious thing is that the ministerial news paper devotes more than one hundred lines to a description of some of those splendid Bills without saying anything definite about any of them. “Suspension of certain legislative acts concerning the peasants”—we are not told which. The Bill on the “courts of conciliation” is the most interesting. We are not told who are to be conciliated and how. “The regulation of rent relations”—we are kept completely in the dark; we are not even told whether it is a question of leasing the landed estates, which are expected to be expropriated without compensation.
“A reform in the sense of greater democratisation of the local land committees.” Wouldn’t it be better if you authors of sweeping promises immediately listed at least a dozen local land committees, giving, in exact terms, their present, post-revolutionary, yet, according to your own admission, not fully democratic composition?
The point is that the tireless activity of Minister Chernov, as well as of the other Ministers mentioned above, is the best illustration of the difference between a liberal bureaucrat and a revolutionary democrat.
The liberal bureaucrat submits to his “higher-ups”, i.e., Lvov, Shingaryov and Co., voluminous reports on hundreds of Bills that are supposed to benefit mankind. All he offers the people is palaver, fine promises, Nozdrev phrases (such as the one about 100 per cent profit or a “socialist” offensive at the front, and so on).
The revolutionary democrat, while submitting a report to his “higher-ups”, or even before submitting it, reveals and exposes every evil and every shortcoming before the people to arouse their, activity.
“Peasants, expose the landowners, expose how much they take from you by way of ’rent’, how much they have had ad judged to them in the ’courts of conciliation’ or the local land committees, how much cavilling or interference they have been guilty of as regards cultivating all the lands and using the landowners’ implements and livestock to meet the needs of the people, particularly the poorest sections! Expose it yourselves, peasants, and I, a minister of revolutionary Russia’, ’a minister of the revolutionary democrats’, shall help you to publish all such exposures and to remove all oppression through your pressure from the bottom and mine from the top!!!” Surely, this is how a true “revolutionary democrat” would speak and act.
Nothing of the kind here! Nothing at all! Here is the language used by the ministerial newspaper in regard to Chernov’s “report” to Lvov and Co. “While he does not deny that there are a number of agrarian excesses in some gubernias, V. M. Chernov thinks that, on the whole, rural Russia has proved to be much more balanced than one would have expected....”
Yet not a word was said about the hold-up of the only Bill named specifically—the one about “suspending the sale and purchase of land”. For the peasants had long since been promised the immediate suspension of sale and purchase. It was promised as early as May, but on June 25 we read in the papers that Chernov had presented a “report” and that the Provisional Government “has not yet taken a final decision”!!!
 Nozdrev—a blustering liar in Gogol’s Dead Souls.