J. V. Stalin

Reaction is Growing

October 15, 1905

Source : Works, Vol. 1, November 1901 - April 1907
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). 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.

Dark clouds are gathering over us. The decrepit autocracy is raising its head and arming itself with "fire and sword." Reaction is on the march! Let no one talk to us about the tsar's "reforms," the object of which is to strengthen the despicable autocracy: the "reforms" are a screen for the bullets and whips to which the brutal tsarist government is so generously treating us.

There was a time when the government refrained from shedding blood within the country. At that time it was waging war against the "external enemy," and it needed "internal tranquillity." That is why it showed a certain amount of "leniency" towards the "internal enemy" and turned a "blind eye" on the movement that was flaring up

Now times are different. Frightened by the spectre of revolution, the tsarist government hastened to conclude peace with the "external enemy," with Japan, in order to muster its forces and "thoroughly" settle accounts with the "internal enemy." And so reaction set in. The government had already revealed its "plans" before that, in Moskovskiye Vedomosti. 1 It . . . "was obliged to wage two parallel wars . . ." wrote that reactionary newspaper—"an external war and an internal war. If it waged neither of them with sufficient energy . . . it may be explained partly by the fact that one war hindered the other. . . . If the war in the Far East now terminates . . ." the government ". . . will, at last, have its hands free victoriously to terminate the internal war too . . . without any negotiations to crush" . . . "the internal enemies.". . . "With the termination of the war, Russia (read: the government) will concentrate all her attention on her internal life and, mainly, on quelling sedition" (see Moskovskiye Vedomosti, August 18).

Such were the "plans" of the tsarist government in concluding peace with Japan.

Then, when peace was concluded, it announced these "plans" once again through the mouth of its minister: "We shall drown the extremist parties in Russia in blood," said the minister. Through its viceroys and governor-generals it is already putting the above-mentioned "plans" into execution: it is not for nothing that it has transformed Russia into a military camp, it is not for nothing that it has inundated the centres of the movement with Cossacks and troops and has turned machine guns against the proletariat one would think that the government is setting out to conquer boundless Russia a second time!

As you see, the government is proclaiming war on the revolution and is directing its first blows against its advanced detachment—the proletariat. That is how its threats against the "extremist parties" are to be interpreted. It will not, of course, "neglect" the peasantry and will generously treat it to whips and bullets if it proves to be "unwise enough" to demand a human existence; but meanwhile the government is trying to deceive it: it is promising it land and inviting it into the Duma, painting pictures of "all sorts of liberties" in the future.

As regards the "gentry," the government will, of course, treat it "more delicately," and will try to enter into an alliance with it: that is exactly what the State Duma exists for. Needless to say, Messieurs the liberal bourgeoisie will not reject an "agreement." As far back as August 5 they stated through the mouth of their leader that they were enthusiastic over the tsar's reforms: ". . . All efforts must be exerted to prevent Russia . . . from following the revolutionary path pursued by France" (see Russkiye Vedomosti 2 of August 5, article by Vinogradov). Needless to say, the sly liberals would rather betray the revolution than Nicholas II. This was sufficiently proved by their last congress. . . .

In short, the tsarist government is exerting all efforts to crush the people's revolution.

Bullets for the proletariat, false promises for the peasantry and "rights" for the big bourgeoisie—such are the weapons with which the reaction is arming.

Either the defeat of the revolution or death — such is the autocracy's slogan today.

On the other hand, the forces of the revolution are on the alert too, and are continuing their great work. The crisis which has been intensified by the war together with the political strikes which are breaking out with growing frequency, have stirred up the proletariat of the whole of Russia and have brought it face to face with the tsarist autocracy. Martial law, far from intimidating the proletariat, has, on the contrary, merely poured oil on the flames, and has still further worsened the situation. No one who hears the countless cries of proletarians: "Down with the tsarist government, down with the tsarist Duma!", no one who has felt the pulse of the working class, can doubt that the revolutionary spirit of the proletariat, the leader of the revolution, will rise higher and higher. As regards the peasantry — the war mobilisation which wrecked their homes by depriving their families of their best bread-winners, roused them against the present regime. If we also bear in mind that to this has been added the famine which has afflicted twenty-six gubernias, it will not be difficult to guess what path the long-suffering peasantry must take. And lastly, the troops, too, are beginning to murmur and this murmur is daily becoming more menacing for the autocracy. The Cossacks—the prop of the autocracy—are beginning to evoke the hatred of the troops: recently the troops in Novaya Alexandria wiped out three hundred Cossacks. 3 The number of facts like these is steadily growing. . . .

In short, life is preparing another revolutionary wave, which is gradually rising and sweeping against the reaction. The recent events in Moscow and St. Petersburg are harbingers of this wave.

What should be our attitude towards all these events? What should we Social-Democrats do?

To listen to the Menshevik Martov, we ought to elect this very day a Constituent Assembly to uproot the foundations of the tsarist autocracy forever. In his opinion, illegal elections ought to be held simultaneously with the legal elections to the Duma. Electoral committees should be set up to call upon "the people to elect their representatives by means of universal suffrage. At a certain moment these representatives should gather in a certain town and proclaim themselves a Constituent Assembly. . . ." This is how "the liquidation of the autocracy should take place." 4 In other words, we can conduct a general election all over Russia in spite of the fact that the autocracy still lives! "Illegal" representatives of the people can proclaim themselves a Constituent Assembly and establish a democratic republic in spite of the fact that the autocracy is running riot! It appears that neither arms, nor an uprising, nor a provisional government is needed—the democratic republic will come of its own accord; all that is needed is that the "illegal" representatives should call themselves a Constituent Assembly! Good Martov has forgotten only one thing, that one fine day his fairyland "Constituent Assembly" will find itself in the Fortress of Peter and Paul! Martov in Geneva fails to understand that the practical workers in Russia have no time to play at bourgeois spillikins.

No, we want to do something else.

Dark reaction is mustering sinister forces and is doing its utmost to unite them — our task is to unite the Social-Democratic forces and to weld them more closely.

Dark reaction is convening the Duma; it wants to gain new allies and to enlarge the army of the counter-revolution—our task is to proclaim an active boycott of the Duma, to expose its counter-revolutionary face to the whole world and to multiply the ranks of the supporters of the revolution.

Dark reaction has launched a deadly attack against the revolution; it wants to cause confusion in our ranks and to dig the grave of the people's revolution—our task is to close our ranks, to launch a country-wide simultaneous attack against the tsarist autocracy and wipe out the memory of it forever.

Not Martov's house of cards, but a general uprising— that is what we need.

The salvation of the people lies in the victorious uprising of the people themselves.

Either the victory of the revolution or death—such should be our revolutionary slogan today.


1. Moskovskiye Vedomosti (Moscow Gazette)—a newspaper, began publication in 1756 and expressed the interests of the most reactionary circles of the feudal nobility and clergy. In 1905 it became the organ of the Black Hundreds. It was closed down after the October Revolution in 1917.

2. Russkiye Vedomosti (Russian Gazette)—a newspaper founded in Moscow in 1863 by the liberal professors at the Moscow University and by leading Zemstvo people. It expressed the interests of the liberal landlords and bourgeoisie. In 1905 became the organ of the Right-wing Cadets.

3. See Proletary, No. 15 where Martov's "plan" is published.

4. See Proletary, 4a No. 17.

4a. Proletary (The Proletarian)—an illegal Bolshevik weekly newspaper, the Central Organ of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, founded by the decision of the Third Congress of the Party. It was published in Geneva from May 14 (27) to November 12 (25), 1905. In all, twenty-six numbers were published. V. I. Lenin was chief editor. Proletary continued the policy of the old, Leninist Iskra, and was the successor to the Bolshevik newspaper Vperyod. It ceased publication on V. I. Lenin's return to St. Petersburg.