J. V. Stalin


April 22, 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 first wave of the political upsurge is beginning to recede. The "last" strikes are in progress. Here and there voices of protesting strikers are still heard, but these will be the "last" voices. For the time being, the country is beginning to assume its "normal" appearance. . . .

What lessons can the proletariat learn from the recent events?

Let us reconstruct the picture of the "days of the movement."

April 4. The Lena shooting. About 500 killed and wounded. Apparent calm reigns in the country. The government's mood is firm. Protest strikes begin in the South.

April 10. An interpellation in the Duma. Strikes increase in number. The situation becomes alarming.

April 11. Minister Makarov's answer: "So it was, so it will be." Timashov does "not quite" agree with Makarov. The first signs of confusion are observed in the ranks of the government representatives. Meetings and strikes in St. Petersburg. The movement grows in the provinces.

April 15. A demonstration of students and workers in St. Petersburg.

April 18. Over 100,000 workers strike in St. Petersburg. Workers' demonstrations are organised. The government are losing their heads. Makarov is afraid to appear in the Duma. Timashov apologises. The government retreats. A concession to "public opinion."

The deduction to be drawn is clear: emancipation cannot be achieved by silence and patience. The more loudly the voices of the workers resound, the more the forces of reaction lose their heads and the sooner they retreat. . . .

The "days of the movement" are the best field for testing the political parties. Parties must be assessed not by what they say, but by the way they behave "in the days of the struggle." How did the parties which call themselves "popular" parties behave in those days?

The extreme Black-Hundred landlord group, headed by the Zamyslovskys and Markovs, had difficulty in concealing their joy over the Lena shooting. There! The government has displayed strength and sternness—let the "lazy" workers know whom they have to deal with! They applauded Makarov. They voted against the Social-Democratic group's interpellation in the Duma. Their newspaper Zemshchina 1 did all in its power to incite the government against the Lena "agitators," against the workers on strike all over Russia, and against the workers' newspaper Zvezda.

The moderate Black-Hundred landlord group, headed by the Balashovs and Krupenskys, had no real objection to the shooting—it merely regretted that the government had acted in too transparent a manner, too openly. Therefore, while shedding crocodile tears over the "killed," it at the same time expressed the wish that the government should be "tactful" in regard to shooting. It voted against the Social-Democratic group's interpellation, and its organ Novoye Vremya 2 urged the government "not to stand on ceremony" with "convinced strikers," to subject demonstrators "not to light fines or arrest, but to stern punishment" and, as regards the "agitators" under arrest, not to release them from prison.

The party of the conservative landlords and parasitical strata of the bourgeoisie, the Octobrist Party, headed by the Guchkovs and Gololobovs, mourned, not over the dead, but over the fact that the ministry which it supported had suffered "unpleasantness" (the strikes) as a consequence of the "improper resort to firearms" on the Lena. Describing Makarov's statement as being "not altogether tactful" it, in its organ Golos Moskvy, 3 expressed the conviction that the government was "not to blame for the bloodshed." It caused the defeat of the Social-Democrats' interpellation. It incited the authorities against the "instigators"; and when Timashov tried to rehabilitate Makarov, it applauded him and considered the "incident" closed.

The party of the liberal landlords and the middle strata of the bourgeoisie, the Cadet Party, headed by the Milyukovs and Maklakovs, hurled verbal thunderbolts against the Lena shooting, but expressed the view that it was not the principles of the regime, but individuals of the type of Treshchenko and Belozyorov who were to blame. Therefore, while chanting a hypocritical "we erred" in connection with Makarov's statement, it was quite satisfied with Timashov's "repentant" statement and quietened down. On the one hand it supported the Social-Democratic group, which demanded that the representatives of the government should come before the court of the country. On the other hand, it welcomed the representatives of the industrial bourgeoisie, Messrs. the Peaceful Renovators, who appealed to the same representatives of the government to curb the striking workers by means of "civilised measures." And, to leave no doubt whatever about its, the Cadet Party's, loyalty, it came out and declared in its Rech that the Lena strike was a "spontaneous riot."

That is how all these "popular" parties behaved during the "days of the movement."

Let the workers remember it and give them their deserts during the "days of the election" to the Fourth Duma.

Social-Democracy alone defended the interests of the workers in the "days of struggle," it alone told the whole truth.

The deduction to be drawn is clear: Social-Democracy is the sole champion of the proletariat. All the other parties mentioned are enemies of the working class, the only difference between them being the different ways in which they fight the workers: one fights by means of "civilised measures," another by means of "not quite civilised measures" and a third by means of "quite uncivilised measures."

Now that the first wave of the upsurge is receding, the dark forces which have been hiding behind a screen of crocodile tears are beginning to come out into the open again. Zemshchina is calling for "measures" against the workers' press. Novoye Vremya urges that the "convince" workers be shown no mercy. And the authorities are setting to "work," arresting more and more "unre-liables." What can they count on in their "new campaign"? How are we to explain the boldness now displayed by the authorities, who had almost lost their wits.

They can count on only one thing: on the impossibility of rousing mass protests on every occasion, on the unorganised state of the workers, on their insufficient class consciousness.


The St. Petersburg Zvezda, No. 33, April 22, 1912


1. Zemshchina — a Black-Hundred newspaper, the organ of the deputies of the extreme right in the State Duma; published in St. Petersburg from 1909 to 1917.

2. Novoye Vremya (New Times) —organ of the reactionary nobility and bureaucratic circles; published in St. Petersburg from 1868 to October 1917. In 1905 it became one of the organs of the Black Hundreds.

3. Golos Moskvy (The Voice of Moscow) — a daily newspaper, organ of the Octobrist Party, published in Moscow from December 1906 to 1915, edited and published by A. I. Guchkov.