J. V. Stalin

How they are Preparing for the Elections

April 19, 1912

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 elections to the Fourth Duma 1 are approaching and the enemies of the movement for emancipation are mobilising their forces.

Before us are, first of all, the counter-revolutionary parties: the extreme Rights, the Nationalists, the Octo-brists. All, in one way or another, support the government. What can they count on in the forthcoming election campaign? Not on the sympathy of broad strata of the population, of course; the parties which have bound their fate with the fate of the Lena massacre government cannot count on the sympathy of the masses! Their only hope is the government's "orders": and, as usual, of "orders" there will be no lack. The Ministry of the Interior has already issued a circular to the Provincial Governors recommending the adoption of "measures to ensure the election of delegates from the volosts who are fully reliable and do not belong to the Lefts." What all these "measures" amount to we know from practical experience: the erasure of Left candidates from the lists, the framing up of charges against them, their arrest and deportation— such are the "measures"! On the other hand, the Holy Synod is advising bishops to take a most active part in the forthcoming elections, to secure the election to the Duma of staunch champions of the interests of the church, and with that object in view to convene election congresses of the clergy in their respective sees, to proceed to publish special election newspapers, etc.

The affairs of the governmental parties must be in a very bad way indeed if even the fathers of the church are obliged to neglect "church affairs" for the sake of "mundane affairs"!

Elections under the pressure of the Provincial Governors, spiritual and temporal—these, consequently, are the measures upon which they can count.

True, there is one other method they can resort to, namely, to put on the non-party label, hoodwink the electors that way, get into the Duma somehow, and then throw off the mask. That is precisely the "idea" of the Kovno nationalists, who came out under the non-party mask the other day. But that method is a subtle one and will scarcely suit our clumsy diehards. . . .

It is different with the Russian liberals—the Cadets, the Peaceful Renovators, and the Progressives. That crowd is more agile and, perhaps, will be able to make the utmost use of the non-party label. . . . And the Cadets, whose colouring has faded, need this non-party label, need it in the extreme.

The point is that during the period in which the Third Duma was functioning, the man in the street learned to look with a critical eye upon the Octobrists and Cadets. On the other hand, the "First Curia" people, the big urban bourgeoisie, are "disappointed" with the Octo-brists, who failed to "justify" their hopes. Consequently, an opportunity occurs to "knock out of the saddle" the Octobrists, the Cadets' competitors in Ministerial ante-rooms. But how can a bridge to the "First Curia" be erected if not through the progressive Peaceful Renovators? Therefore—long live the alliance with the Peaceful Renovators! True, it is necessary to go "just a little bit" to the right for this, but that does not matter: why not go to the right if it is so profitable? And so—dress by the right!

On the other hand, the "small and medium urban people" of the "Second Curia"—the intellectuals, shop assistants and others—have swung considerably to the left, especially in connection with the developing Lena events. The Cadets are conscious of having committed grave political sins, they have tried too often to betray the cause of the "popular freedom," and—God knows— they would even now gladly rush into the Ministerial ante-rooms, if only they were sure that they would be admitted! But it is precisely for this reason that the urban democratic strata are beginning to look askance at the Cadets. Is it necessary to say also that to come before such voters without a mask, to expose their true features as liberal traitors, is somewhat dangerous? But what, under these circumstances, can be invented for the leftward-swinging urban people, who are already deserting the Cadets, but have not yet come over to the Social-Democrats? Of course, progressive fog . . . pardon me, I mean progressive non-partyism. Oh, don't think that the Progressives are Cadets ! No, they are not Cadets at all; they will only vote for the Cadet candidates, they are only the "non-party" servants of the Cadets. . . . And the Cadets advertise the "non-party" Progressives: what else can they do? They must swing to the left, at least in words, in the direction of . . . non-partyism!

And so—dress by the left!

On the one hand . . . on the other hand . . . to the right . . . to the left. . . . Such is the policy of the party of the liberal deception of the people, the Cadet Party.

Hoodwinking the voters—such are the means the Russian liberals will count on.

And—this must be emphasised—non-party charlatanry may play an important role in the elections. It may play an important role if the Social-Democrats fail to tear the masks off the liberal gentry, if they fail to conduct a vigorous campaign in connection with the forthcoming elections, if they fail to exercise all the strength at their command to rally the urban democratic strata around the leader of the movement for emancipation, around the Russian proletariat.


The St. Petersburg Zvezda, No. 32, April 19, 1912


1. The elections to the Fourth State Duma took place in the autumn of 1912, but the Bolsheviks, headed by V. I. Lenin and J. V. Stalin, began to prepare for the election campaign as early as the spring of that year. The Bolshevik Party came out independently in the elections with the slogans of a democratic republic, an eight-hour day and confiscation of the land of the landlords. In March 1912 V. I. Lenin wrote "The Election Platform of the R. S. D. L. P.," which was published in leaflet form and distributed in a number of the biggest towns of Russia. The Bolshevik election campaign was conducted under the direct guidance of J. V. Stalin. His arrest on April 22, 1912, temporarily interrupted this work. He returned to St. Petersburg after escaping from his place of exile in Narym in September 1912, when the election campaign was at its height.