J. V. Stalin

The Change in the Oil Owners' Tactics

March 9, 1908

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.

Not so long ago—just a few months back—our oil owners were "talking" about "European-style" relations between workers and employers.

At that time they tried to behave in a conciliatory manner. This is understandable: the incessant preaching of the "meditative" Rin on the divine origin of collective agreements, the growing wave of partial strikes, the oil owners' expectations of being able to "regulate production" by means of a "European-style" conference, and the pressure exercised to some extent by the authorities—all this put the oil owners in a conciliatory, "European" mood.

"Down with the anarchy of strikes!"— exclaimed Rin.

"Long live order!" responded the oil owners, in harmony with Rin.

And it looked as if "order" was being introduced. The number of repressive actions on the part of the employers seemed to diminish. The number of strikes also diminished. The oil owners "found it necessary to come to terms" (see Neftyanoye Delo, December).

But then the campaign began. The workers emphatically rejected the old, backstage type of conference. The overwhelming majority of them expressed themselves in favour of a conference with guarantees. Thereby, the workers expressed a definite desire to utilise the conference to the utmost, to convert it into a weapon of organised, conscious struggle. Well, what has happened?

We no longer hear any talk about "European-style" relations. About "expectations" of being able to "regulate production" we hear not a word. The "anarchy of strikes" no longer frightens the oil owners; on the contrary, they themselves are driving the workers towards "anarchy" by attacking them, by robbing them of their gains, by discharging advanced comrades, etc., etc.

Evidently, the oil owners no longer find it necessary to come to terms. They prefer to attack.

Already at their congress at the end of January the oil owners launched their attack upon the workers. They gagged the representatives of the unions. They buried the question of workers' settlements. They decided to "cancel" the questions of schools, medical aid, etc. They deprived the workers of the right to participate in the management of the people's halls.

By all these measures the oil owners made it felt that they were taking a "new," "non-European" path, the path of open attacks upon the workers.

The Council of the Congress is continuing the "work" of their congress. It launched an attack on the workers by introducing the "ten-kopek hospital levy." This is apart from the minor orders of the Council, which bear the impress of the same change in the oil owners' tactics.

Then followed the usual "intensification" of reprisals in the shape of the cancellation of previously won oil field and works rights, reduction of staffs, discharge of advanced workers, lockouts, etc.

They reduced the oil field and works commissions to a cipher. The conflicts over the commission at Rothschild's (Balakhany), the Caspian Company, Shibayev's (Balakhany), Born's (Balakhany), Biering's, Mirzoyev's and the Naphtha Producers' Association clearly prove this.

On the pretext of "reducing staffs" they are "kicking out" the most influential comrades, especially the council delegates. The incidents that have occurred at the Caspian Company, at Born's, Mukhtarov's (Balakhany), Shibayev's (Balakhany), Lapshin's (Bibi-Eibat) and Malnikov's leave no room for doubt on this score.

The lockout at Wotan's crowns the "new" tactics of the oil owners.

By all these measures they are driving the workers on to the path of spontaneous and anarchic outbursts, which exhaust the workers.

Still more characteristic are the forms of the repressive actions taken against strikers. We have in mind the firm of Mirzoyev's, or more exactly, the manager of that firm, Mr. Markarov, who is inciting Moslems armed with rifles against the Armenian strikers and is thus creating the conditions for Armenian-Tatar conflicts.

Such is the change that has taken place in the oil owners' tactics.

Evidently, the oil owners no longer want "European conditions."

Seeing no prospect of the conference being "successful," losing hope of being able to "regulate production" by means of a conference alone, without satisfying the principal demands of the workers, seeing the conference changing from an instrument of disruption into an instrument for organising the mass of 50,000 workers—the oil owners want, in one way or another, to free themselves from the conference by postponing it indefinitely or, at least, devitalising it.

With that object in view they are resorting to a system of repressive measures, provoking the workers to premature action, breaking up the growing general movement into separate partial movements, and pushing the workers from the broad road of the class struggle into the crooked back streets of group conflicts.

With the aid of all these measures they want to divert the workers' attention from a conference with guarantees, to discredit in the eyes of the workers the Delegate Council, which might unite them, to prevent the workers from uniting and thereby prevent them from preparing to win their demands.

By acting in this way they want to provoke the as yet unorganised workers to take premature general action, which may provide them with the opportunity of "utterly" crushing the workers and ensuring "uninterrupted" production of oil for a long time to come.

Such is the significance of the change in the oil owners' tactics.

What should be our tactics in view of all that has been said above?

The oil owners are attacking us, taking advantage of our lack of organisation Consequently, our task is to rally around our union and defend ourselves from their blows by every means in our power.

Efforts are being made to provoke us into spontaneous, partial outbursts with the object of splitting up our general movement—consequently, we must not fall into the oil owners' trap, we must refrain, as far as possible, from partial strikes, we must not split up the general movement.

Efforts are being made to deprive us of the instrument of our unity, to rob us of the Delegate Council, by indefinitely postponing the conference and provoking us to premature general action. Consequently, it is our duty to demand the immediate convocation of the Delegate Council, to set to work to draw up the workers' demands and, in the course of this work, to rally the masses around the Delegate Council.

After strengthening the Delegate Council and rallying the mass of 50,000 workers around it, we shall not find it difficult to deal properly with the non-European schemes of Messrs. the oil owners.


Gudok, , No. 22, March 9, 1908