Ekho, No. 2, June 23, 1906.
Published according to the Ekho text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 11, pages 50-52.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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In Golos Truda, Comrade N. Rakhmetov discusses “the political tasks of Russian Social-Democrats”. Four columns of this article are taken up by arguments to prove that
“it is not to the advantage of the proletariat, as one of the classes that are active in Russia today, to leave the Duma to its own resources. That would mean that the proletariat would strike itself off from the list of vital political forces, and the only result would he that the proletariat would fail to utilise the Russian bourgeois revolution to the extent it could do.”
“It is enough to formulate the question in this way,” says N. Rakhmetov, “to see that there can only be one answer to it.” Quite true, Comrade Rakhmetov. The unfortunate thing, however, is that this is not a “formulation of the question”, but a threadbare platitude.
The “question” has never been formulated in this way. It is quite evident, however, that Comrade Rakhmetov knows how it has been—and is now—formulated, for from the above quoted tirade he very surprisingly draws the following conclusion:
“It is the proletariat’s duty—to itself as well as to the whole country—not only to refrain from being passively neutral in the struggle between the Duma and the autocracy, but boldly and resolutely to take the side of the Duma against the government in this struggle.”
Now this is where the “question” does arise. And Comrade Rakhmetov realises it, for he foresees that
“the newspaper Svetoch will probably be very sceptical about such tactics. That newspaper writes: ’The only flaw in this flawless dialectical plan of a “revolution through the Duma” is that it leaves out of account the mundane, prosaic fact that the present Duma consists, in the main, of bourgeois elements who dread revolution and, consequently, are hostile to it.’ Arguments like these may serve as a splendid illustration of how a Social-Democrat should never argue under any circumstances. A Social-Democrat ought to know that the political tactics of the proletariat are not dictated by the moods of other social groups, but by the objective historical process that compels these groups to act in a certain way. A Social-Democrat ought to know and take into account what the classes with which he has to deal are compelled to do. If he formulates the question in this way he will be convinced of the following: by expressing readiness to render the Duma revolutionary support against tsarism, the proletariat will thereby compel the Duma to become more revolutionary in its actions. Politically, one must be very immature indeed not to understand this simple ’truth’.”
What a queer argument! According to Comrade Rakhmetov, even though our bourgeoisie is counter-revolutionary, it can be compelled to become revolutionary.
For this purpose, it appears, “the Duma must be surround ed with a flaming circle of revolutionary pressure”. The Duma will then be confronted with the “question”: “either be consumed in the flames or merge with them”; “the question of life or death”.
We are very much afraid that Comrade Rakhmetov will get a severe gruelling from Comrade Plekhanov for his metaphysical “formulation of the question”, for his inability to formulate a most important political question dialectically. How often the former Mensheviks, and Comrade Plekhanov, have protested against this “either—or” method of formulating political questions! Why necessarily “either be consumed in the flames or merge with them”? Does Comrade Rakhmetov really think that the Herzenstein and Nabokov faction has no other alternative? Why, for example, should they not, in alliance with the more “decent” bureaucrats, attempt to break through this “flaming circle of revolutionary pressure”?
We, for example, think that if the victoriously rising tide of revolution compels the leading elements of the Cadet Party to do anything at all, it will be to try this third way out, i.e., simply to make a deal with the bureaucrats.
It is quite probable that the “party of people’s freedom” in its present shape may be “consumed” in this attempt; but when will comrades like Rakhmetov understand, at last, that all the noise and fuss the Cadets have been making about people’s freedom has been simply a stepping stone to ministerial portfolios and not to the “struggle against tsar ism”, which comrades like Rakhmetov are so unsuccess fully trying to foist upon them. And speaking generally, the masters of the Duma—for the time being—are the Cadet Centre; and you want to surround this Duma “with a flaming circle of revolutionary pressure”. That is all very well; it is certainly important and necessary. But should not all those who are “pressing” constantly be warned that they will inevitably ... press the present masters of the Duma into the arms of the bureaucrats? Shouldn’t they, Comrade Rakhmetov?
 The organ of the Moscow Social-Democrats, recently suppressed by the government.—Lenin
 Golos Truda (Voice of Labour)—a Menshevik daily newspaper published in St. Petersburg in June-July 1906.
 Svetoch (Torch)—a legal Bolshevik daily newspaper published in Moscow from May 11(24) to May 31 (June 13), 1906. Seventeen issues appeared. Contributors included I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov, M. N. Pokrovsky, and others. The newspaper was closed down by order of the Moscow Central Court.