V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written October 11, 1905
Published: First published in 1931. Sent from Geneva to Florence. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 352-354.
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcription\Markup: D. Moros
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005). 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.
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October 14

Dear An. Vas.,

Your article deals with a subject that is extremely interesting and very timely.[2] Recently, in a leading article, Leipziger Volkszeitung[3] ridiculed the Zemstvo members for their September Congress, for “playing at a Constitution”, for already posing as parliamentarians, etc., etc. The mistake of Parvus and Martov needs analysing from this aspect. But your article gives no analysis. I believe the article should be revised along one of two lines: either the weight of emphasis should be shifted to our new-Iskrists, who are “playing at parliamentarism”, and you should demonstrate in detail the relative, temporary importance of parliamentarism, the futility of “parliamentary illusions” in an era of revolutionary struggle, etc., by explaining the whole thing from the beginning (for Russians this is very useful!) and introducing a bit of Hilferding,[4] just by way of illustration; or else you should take Hilferding as a basis—the article will then need less revision—give it a different heading, but describe more clearly Hilferding’s method of presenting the question. Of course, you may find another plan of revision, but please set to work on it at once, without fail. You have time for it, since the article could not go into this issue (the Moscow events[5]+ the old material have taken up all the space). So, the deadline is Tuesday, October 17. Please make it a comprehensive article and send it by October 17. It would be better to revise it along the first lines, it may then turn out to be an editorial!

If we already had a parliament, we would certainly support the Cadets,[6] Milyukov and Co. contra Moskov-   skiye Vedomosti. For example, when balloting, etc. Such action there would not in the slightest degree violate the independence of the class party of Social-Democracy. But in an era not of parliament, but of revolution (you make the distinction in the very heading), support for people who are incapable of fighting in a revolutionary way is 1) violation of the independence of our Party. The deal cannot be clear and above-hoard. It is precisely the “sale” of our right to revolution, as you say, and not the use of our right for the purpose of support. In a parliament we give support without in any way disappearing. Now we are disappearing by obliging the Milyukovs to speak for us on definite terms. Further, what is most important 2) such support is betrayal of the revolution. There is no parliament as yet, it is only an illusion of the Milyukovs. We must fight in a revolutionary way for a parliament, but not in a parliamentary way for a revolution; we must fight in a revolutionary way for a strong parliament, and not in an impotent “parliament” for a revolution. In Russia now, without the victory of the revolution, all victories in “parliament” (the Duma or the like) are nothing, worse than nothing, for they blind the eyes by a fiction. Parvus has not understood this.

The Cadets have already become regierungsfähig[1] (the Trubetskois and Manuilovs in the role of rectors, etc.), they have already climbed to the second storey of freedom of assembly (at the price of debasing assemblies), the storey of quasi-parliamentarism. All they need is that the proletariat, while remaining actually in the basement, should imagine itself on the second storey, should fancy itself a parliamentary force and agree to “conditions” about “support” and so on. That is a rich theme! We now are strong owing to the revolutionary struggle of the people and weak in a quasi-parliamentary respect. With the Cadets it is just the reverse. They calculate on dragging us into quasi-parliamentarism. Iskra has allowed itself to be fooled. It is on this point that a detailed analysis of the relation of “‘parliamentarism’ to revolution” would be appropriate (cf. Marx on the class struggles in France in 1848).[7]

These ideas outlined by you (I am stating them, of course, in a very general and inexact way) must be amplified, mulled over, and served up. People in Russia are now badly in need of having the relation between parliamentarism and revolution explained to them from the very beginning. But Martov and Co. go into hysterics and scream: if only we would become legal! If only we would act openly! It doesn’t matter how, so long as it’s legal! It is now of all times that we need steadfastness, the continuation of the revolution, struggle against a wretched semi-legality. Iskra has failed to understand this. Like all opportunists, they do not believe in the energy and stubbornness of the workers’ revolutionary struggle. Moscow is a lesson to them. And here we have that vulgarian Parvus applying to Russia the tactics of petty deals!

Did you receive my letter? All the very best to you and to An. Al.



[1] Fit to govern.—Ed.

[2] The reference is to Lunacharsky’s article published, apparently, after Lenin’s suggested revision, under the heading “Parliament and Its Significance” in Proletary No. 25, for November 16 (3), 1905.

[3] Leipziger Volkszeitung—organ of the Left wing of German Social-Democracy. The newspaper was published daily from 1894 to 1933; for a number of years it was edited by Franz Mehring and Rosa Luxemburg. From 1917 to 1922 the paper was the mouthpiece of the German “Independents”. After 1922 it was the organ of the Right Social-Democrats.

[4] Lenin is referring to Rudolph Hilferding’s article “Parlamentarismus und Massenstreik” published in Die Neue Zeit No. 51, for September 13, 1905.

[5] The Moscow events—the strikes and demonstrations started by the Moscow workers, which Lenin dealt with in his articles “The Political Strike and the Street Fighting in Moscow” and “The Lessons of the Moscow Events”^^(see Vol. 9 of this edition)^^. The strike movement spread to St. Petersburg and was followed by a general political strike all over the country^^(see Lenin’s article “The All-Russia Political Strike”, Vol. 9 of this edition)^^.

[6] Cadets—abbreviated name for members of the Constitutional-Democratic Party, the chief party of the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie in Russia. Founded in October 1905, its membership was made up of representatives of the bourgeoisie, Zemstvo leaders of the landowning class and bourgeois intellectuals. The Cadets called themselves the “party of people’s freedom”. Actually they strove towards a deal with the autocracy in order to preserve tsarism in the form of a constitutional monarchy. Their watchword from the beginning of the imperialist war was “war to a victorious finish”. After the February revolution of 1917, as a result of a deal with the S.R. and Menshevik leaders of the Petrograd Soviet, they occupied key positions in the bourgeois Provisional Government and pursued a counter-revolutionary policy opposed to the interests of the people.

After the victory of the October Revolution the Cadets came out as implacable enemies of the Soviet power. They took part in all the counter-revolutionary armed actions and campaigns of the interventionists. Living abroad as émigrés after the defeat of the interventionists and whiteguards, the Cadets did not cease their anti-Soviet activities.

[7] Karl Marx, “The Class Struggles in France, 1848 to 1850”^^(see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 1, Moscow 1962, pp. 139–242)^^.

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