J. V. Stalin

The Bourgeoisie is Laying a Trap

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.

In the middle of September a congress of "persons active in rural and urban affairs" was held. At this congress a new "party" 1 was formed, headed by a Central Committee and with local bodies in different towns. The congress adopted a "programme," defined its "tactics," and drew up a special appeal which this newly-hatched "party" is to issue to the people. In short, the "persons active in rural and urban affairs" formed their own "party."

Who are these "persons"? What are they called?

The bourgeois liberals.

Who are the bourgeois liberals?

The class-conscious representatives of the wealthy bourgeoisie.

The wealthy bourgeoisie are our uncompromising enemies, their wealth is based upon our poverty, their joy is based upon our sorrow. Clearly, their class-conscious representatives will be our sworn enemies who will consciously try to smash us.

Thus, a "party" of the enemies of the people has been formed, and it intends to issue an appeal to the people.

What do these gentlemen want? What do they advocate in their appeal?

They are not Socialists, they detest the socialist movement. That means that they are out to strengthen the bourgeois system and are waging a life-and-death struggle against the proletariat. That is why they enjoy great sympathy in bourgeois circles.

Nor are they Democrats, they detest the democratic republic. That means that they are out to strengthen the tsar's throne and are also fighting zealously against the long-suffering peasantry. That is why Nicholas II "graciously" permitted them to hold meetings and to convene a "party" congress.

All they want is slightly to curtail the powers of the tsar, and then only on the condition that these powers are transferred to the bourgeoisie. As regards tsarism itself, it must, in their opinion, certainly remain as a reliable bulwark of the wealthy bourgeoisie, which will use it against the proletariat. That is why they say in their "draft constitution" that "the throne of the Romanovs must remain inviolable," i.e., they want a curtailed constitution with a limited monarchy.

Messieurs the bourgeois liberals "have no objection" to the people being granted the franchise, provided, however, that the chamber of the people's representatives is dominated by a chamber representing the rich, which will certainly exert all efforts to modify and annul the decisions of the chamber of the people's representatives. That is why they say in their programme: "We need two chambers."

Messieurs the bourgeois liberals will be "very glad" if freedom of speech, of the press and of association is granted, provided, however, that freedom to strike is restricted. That is why they talk such a lot about the "rights of man and the citizen" but say nothing intelligible about freedom to strike, except for hypocritical prattle about nebulous "economic reforms."

Nor do these queer gentlemen withhold their charity from the peasantry—they "have no objection" to the land of the landlords being transferred to the peasants, provided, however, the peasants buy this land from the landlords and do not "receive it gratis." You see how benevolent these sorry "personages" are!

If they live to see all these wishes carried out, the result will be that the powers of the tsar will pass into the hands of the bourgeoisie, and the tsarist autocracy will gradually be transformed into the autocracy of the bourgeoisie. That is what the "persons active in rural and urban affairs" are driving at. That is why they are haunted by the people's revolution even in their sleep and talk so much about "pacifying Russia."

It is not surprising, after this, that these luckless "personages" placed such great hopes on the so-called State Duma. As we know, the tsarist Duma is the negation of the people's revolution, and this is very much to the advantage of our liberal bourgeoisie. As we know, the tsarist Duma provides "some slight" field of activity for the wealthy bourgeoisie, and this is exactly what our bourgeois liberals need so much. That is why they base their entire "programme" and the conduct of all their activities on the assumption that the Duma will exist— the bankruptcy of the Duma would inevitably lead to the collapse of all their "plans." That is why they are so frightened by the boycott of the Duma; that is why they advise us to go into the Duma. "It will be a great mistake if we do not go into the tsarist Duma," they say through the mouth of their leader Yakushkin, It will indeed be "a great mistake," but for whom, the people, or the people's enemies?— that is the question.

What is the function of the tsarist Duma? What do the "persons active in rural and urban affairs" have to say about this?

". . . The first and main task of the Duma is to reform the Duma itself," they say in their appeal.. "The voters must make the electors pledge themselves to elect candidates who, primarily, will want to reform the Duma," they say in the same appeal.

What is to be the nature of this "reform"? That the Duma should have "the decisive voice in framing laws . . . and in the discussion of state revenue and expenditure . . . and the right to control the activities of the ministers." In other words, the electors must primarily demand an extension of the powers of the Duma. So that is what the "reform" of the Duma turns out to be! Who will get into the Duma? Mainly the big bourgeoisie. Clearly, the extension of the powers of the Duma will mean strengthening the big bourgeoisie politically. And so, the "persons active in rural and urban affairs" advise the people to elect bourgeois liberals to the Duma and to instruct them primarily to help to strengthen the big bourgeoisie! First of all, and most of all, it appears, we must take care to strengthen our enemies, and with our own hands—that is what Messieurs the liberal bourgeoisie are advising us to do today. Very "friendly" advice, we must say! But what about the rights of the people? Who is to take care of that? Oh, Messieurs the liberal bourgeoisie will not forget the people, we can be quite sure about that! They assure us that when they get into the Duma, and when they entrench themselves in it, they will demand rights for the people too. And with the aid of hypocritical utterances of this kind the "persons active in rural and urban affairs" hope to achieve their aim. . . . So that is why they are advising us primarily to extend the powers of the Duma. . . .

Bebel said: Whatever the enemy advises us to do is harmful for us. The enemy advises us to go into the Duma—clearly, going into the Duma will be harmful for us. The enemy advises that the powers of the Duma should be extended—clearly, the extension of the powers of the Duma will be harmful for us. What we must do is to undermine confidence in the Duma and discredit it in the eyes of the people. What we need is not the extension of the powers of the Duma, but the extension of the rights of the people. And if the enemy talks sweetly to us and promises us indefinite "rights," it shows that he is laying a trap for us and wants us, with our own hands, to build a fortress for him. We can expect nothing better from the bourgeois liberals.

But what will you say about certain "Social-Democrats" who are preaching to us the tactics of the bourgeois liberals? What will you say about the Caucasian "minority" which repeats, word for word, the insidious advice of our enemies? This, for example, is what the Caucasian "minority" says: "We deem it necessary to go into the State Duma" (see The Second Conference, p. 7). This is exactly what Messieurs the bourgeois liberals "deem necessary."

The same "minority" advises us: "If the Bulygin Commission . . . grants the right to elect deputies only to the propertied classes, we must intervene in these elections and, by revolutionary means, compel the electors to elect progressive candidates and, in the Zemsky Sobor, demand a Constituent Assembly. Lastly, by every possible means . . . compel the Zemsky Sobor either to convoke a Constituent Assembly or proclaim itself such" (see the Social-Democrat, No. 1). In other words, even if the propertied classes alone enjoy the franchise, even if only representatives of the propertied classes gather in the Duma — we must still demand that this assembly of representatives of the propertied classes be granted the powers of a Constituent Assembly! Even if the rights of the people are curtailed, we must still try to extend the powers of the Duma as much as possible! Needless to say, if the franchise is granted only to the propertied classes, the election of "progressive candidates" will remain an empty phrase.

As you saw above, the bourgeois liberals preach the same thing.

One of two things: either the bourgeois liberals have become Menshevised, or the Caucasian "minority" have become liberalised.

Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that the newly-hatched "party" of the bourgeois liberals is skilfully setting a trap. . . .

What we must do now is—smash this trap, expose it for all to see, and wage a ruthless struggle against the liberal enemies of the people.


1.The Constitutional-Democratic Party (Cadet Party)—the principal party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie. Was formed in October 1905. Under the cloak of a spurious democratism and calling themselves the party of "Popular Freedom," the Cadets tried to win the peasantry to their side. They strove to preserve tsarism in the form of a constitutional monarchy. Subsequently, the Cadets became the party of the imperialist bourgeoisie. After the victory of the October Socialist Revolution the Cadets organised counter-revolutionary conspiracies and revolts against the Soviet Republic.