J. V. Stalin

The Dispersion of the Duma and
Tasks of the Proletariat

June 20, 1907

Source : Works, Vol. 2, 1907 - 1913
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.

The Second Duma has been dispersed. 1 It was not merely dissolved, it was shut up with a bang—exactly like the First Duma. Here we have the "dispersion manifesto" with the hypocrite tsar’s "sincere regret" at the dispersion. We also have a "new electoral law" which practically nullifies the franchise for the workers and peasants. We even have a promise to "renovate" Russia with the aid, of course, of shootings and a Third Duma. In short, we have everything we had only recently, when the First Duma was dispersed. The tsar has briefly re-enacted the dispersion of the First Duma.

In dispersing the Second Duma the tsar did not act idly, without an object in view. With the aid of the Duma he wanted to establish contact with the peasantry, to transform it from an ally of the proletariat into an ally of the government and, by making the proletariat stand alone, by isolating it, to cripple the revolution, to make its victory impossible. For that purpose the government resorted to the aid of the liberal bourgeoisie, which still exercised some influence over the ignorant masses of the peasants; and through this bourgeoisie it wanted to establish contact with the vast masses of the peasants. That is how it wanted to utilise the Second State Duma.

But the opposite happened. The very first sessions of the Second Duma showed that the peasant deputies distrusted not only the government but also the liberal-bourgeois deputies. This distrust grew as a consequence of a series of votes which were taken and it finally reached the stage of open hostility towards the deputies of the liberal bourgeoisie. Thus, the government failed to rally the peasant deputies around the liberals and, through them, around the old regime. The government’s design—to establish contact with the peasantry through the Duma and to isolate the proletariat—was frustrated. The opposite happened: the peasant deputies more and more rallied around the proletarian deputies, around the Social-Democrats. And the more they moved away from the liberals, from the Cadets, the more resolutely did they draw closer to the Social-Democratic deputies. This greatly facilitated the task of rallying the peasants around the proletariat outside the Duma. The result was not the isolation of the proletariat, but the isolation of the liberal bourgeoisie and the government from the peasants—the proletariat consolidated its backing by the vast masses of the peasantry—it was not the revolution that was thrown out of gear, as the government wanted, but the counter-revolution. In view of this, the existence of the Second Duma became increasingly dangerous for the government. And so it "dissolved" the Duma.

In order more effectively to prevent the peasants and the proletariat from coming together, in order to rouse hostility towards the Social-Democrats among the ignorant masses of the peasants and to rally them around itself, the government resorted to two measures.

First, it attacked the Social-Democratic group in the Duma, falsely accused its members of calling for an immediate insurrection and made it appear as if they were chiefly responsible for the dispersion of the Duma, as much as to say: we would not have dispersed your "nice little Duma," dear peasants, but the Social-Democrats threatened us with an insurrection, and so we were obliged to "dissolve" the Duma.

Second, the government promulgated a "new law" which reduces the number of peasant electors by half, doubles the number of landlord electors, gives the latter the opportunity to elect peasant deputies at general meetings, reduces the number of workers’ electors also by nearly half (124 instead of 237), reserves for the government the right to redistribute voters "according to locality, various qualifications and nationality," destroys all possibility of conducting free election propaganda, etc., etc. And all this has been done in order to prevent revolutionary representatives of the workers and peasants from getting into the Third Duma, in order to fill the Duma with the liberal and reactionary representatives of the landlords and factory owners, to get the peasants misrepresented by making possible the election of the most conservative peasant candidates in spite of the wishes of the peasants, and thereby to deprive the proletariat of the opportunity of openly rallying the broad masses of the peasants around itself—in other words, to have an opportunity for an open rapprochement with the peasantry.

This is the idea behind the dispersion of the Second State Duma.

Evidently, the liberal bourgeoisie understands all this and, by the agency of its Cadets, is helping the government. It struck a bargain with the old regime already in the Second Duma and tried to isolate the proletariat by flirting with the peasant deputies. On the eve of the dispersion, the Cadet leader Milyukov called upon his party to rally all and sundry around the "Stolypin government," to enter into an agreement with it, and declare war on the revolution, that is to say, on the proletariat. And Struve, the second Cadet leader, after the Duma was already dispersed, defended "the idea of surrendering" the Social-Democratic deputies to the government, called upon the Cadets openly to take the road of fighting the revolution, to merge with the counter-revolutionary Octobrists and, after isolating the restless proletariat, to wage a struggle against it. The Cadet Party is silent—which means that it agrees with its leaders.

Evidently, the liberal bourgeoisie is aware of the gravity of the present situation.

All the more clearly, therefore, is the proletariat faced with the task of overthrowing the tsarist regime. Just think! There was the First Duma. There was the Second Duma. But neither the one nor the other "solved" a single problem of the revolution, nor, indeed, could either of them "solve" these problems. Just as before, the peasants are without land, the workers are without the eight-hour day, and all citizens are without political freedom. Why? Because the tsarist regime is not yet dead, it still exists, dispersing the Second Duma after it dispersed the First, organising the counter-revolution, and trying to break up the revolutionary forces, to divorce the vast masses of the peasants from the proletarians. Meanwhile, the subterranean forces of the revolution—the crisis in the towns and famine in the rural districts—are continuing their work, rousing more and more the broad masses of the workers and peasants, and more and more persistently demanding a solution of the fundamental problems of our revolution. The exertions of the tsarist regime serve only to aggravate the crisis. The efforts of the liberal bourgeoisie to divorce the peasants from the proletarians are only intensifying the revolution. Clearly, it will be impossible to satisfy the broad masses of the workers and peasants unless the tsarist regime is overthrown and a Popular Constituent Assembly is convened. It is no less clear that the fundamental problems of the revolution can be solved only in alliance with the peasantry against the tsarist regime and against the liberal bourgeoisie.

To the overthrow of the tsarist regime and the convocation of a Popular Constituent Assembly—this is what the dispersion of the Second Duma is leading to.

War against the treacherous liberal bourgeoisie and close alliance with the peasantry—this is what the dispersion of the Second Duma means.

The task of the proletariat is consciously to take this path and worthily to play the part of leader of the revolution.


Bakinsky Proletary, No. 1, June 20, 1907


1. The Second State Duma was dispersed by the tsarist government on June 3, 1907. The Social-Democratic group in the Duma, consisting of 65 deputies, was falsely charged with armed conspiracy. Most of the Social-Democratic deputies were sentenced to penal servitude and permanent exile.