Prostiye Rechi, No. 3, January 30, 1907.
Published according to the text in Prostiye Rechi.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 70-74.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The important success achieved by the Socialist-Revolutionaries in the elections in the worker curia has evoked despondency in many Social-Democrats. But it is a fact of the greatest significance, revealing the serious mistake made by the Social-Democrats and therefore deserving thorough investigation. We must not give way to despondency and distress, but study the recent elections to get at the causes of our comparative reverse and ensure the proper organisation of Social-Democratic activities among the workers in future.
Excellent material for a study of the elections of worker delegates is provided by the “Report of the Semyannikov Subdistrict League of the Neva District”, St. Petersburg Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, which covers the period from November 15, 1906 to January 15, 1907.
We will not quote this Report in full, but cite only the exact figures on the struggle of the Menshevik and Bolshevik Social-Democrats against the Socialist-Revolutionaries in the election of delegates in twenty-three factories in one of the largest (and historically one of the most important) working-class suburbs of St. Petersburg.
We give these figures separately for each factory, so that every competent Party official can verify and correct our data, and we indicate where the candidates were Bolsheviks and where they were Mensheviks. The biggest factories, i.e., those which elected more than one delegate, are italicised.
|Factories where Bolshevik candidates
|Number of delegates elected|
|Russo-American Engineering Works||1||—||—|
|Railway Sleeper Impregnation Works||1||—||—|
|Former Onufriyev Works||1||—||—|
|Alexandrovsky Railway Car Shops||1||—||—|
|Total for 12 factories||11||1||2|
|Factories where Menshevik candidates
|Number of delegates elected|
|Nevsky Stearin Works||—||—||1|
|Playing-Card Factory||one (unspecified)|
|Total for 11 factories||6||—||12|
|and one (unspecified)|
|Total for 23 factories||17||1||14|
|and one (unspecified)|
These figures show first of all that, on the whole, the Social-Democrats have defeated the Socialist-Revolutionaries. The Social-Democrats secured the election of 18 delegates (if we include the Social-Democratic sympathiser among the Social-Democrats), while only 14 Socialist-Revolutionaries were elected.
Further, these figures show: (1) that at the largest factories, the Socialist-Revolutionaries were, on the whole, victorious; (2) that, in general, the Socialist-Revolutionaries defeated the Menshevik Social-Democrats; (3) that, on the whole, the Bolshevik Social-Democrats defeated the Socialist-Revolutionaries.
Indeed, if we take the four biggest factories, i.e., those which elected more than one delegate each, we get the following: total number of delegates elected (i.e., by 14,000 workers)—14, of whom 11 were Socialist-Revolutionaries and three Social-Democrats. At the other 18 smaller factories, 15 Social-Democrats and 3 Socialist-Revolutionaries were elected. We have no information as to the total number of workers at these factories; it may exceed 18,000, for factories employing less than 2,000 workers elect only one delegate; but it may also be less than 18,000, since all factories employing 50 or more workers elect one delegate each.
Consequently, our general conclusion on the victory of the Social-Democrats over the Socialist-Revolutionaries in the Neva District must be revised: at the biggest factories the Socialist-Revolutionaries defeated the Social-Democrats. Figures on the number of delegates elected are not sufficient to enable us to draw a precise conclusion: we must have the figures for each factory; and, moreover, we must have data on the number of workers employed and the number that voted at each of them.
Further, the facts quoted above clearly show that the Mensheviks are entirely to blame for the victory of the Socialist-Revolutionaries. The Mensheviks lost 12 seats to the Socialist-Revolutionaries, 12 out of 18, whereas the Bolsheviks lost only 2 (out of 14).
At the Bolshevik factories (counting as Bolshevik, not merely those where Bolsheviks are, in general, employed, but where Bolshevik candidates were put up in opposition to the Socialist-Revolutionaries), the Socialist-Revolutionaries were undoubtedly routed, in particular at the largest factory, Pahl’s, where the Bolsheviks secured the election of two delegates out of three. Since we have no information as to where the Socialist-Revolutionaries put up candidates, and, consequently, it is very probable that they were defeated at the Russo-American Engineering Works, at the Alexandrovsky Railway Car Shops, the At las Works, etc., the conclusion to be drawn is that, on the whole, the Bolsheviks defeated the Socialist-Revolutionaries.
At the Menshevik factories, on the contrary, the Social-Democrats were defeated: the Socialist-Revolutionaries won 12 seats, the Social-Democrats only 6. There is no doubt that, in the eyes of the proletarian masses, the Socialist-Revolutionaries are on the whole defeating the Mensheviks.
We do not know exactly how far the conclusions drawn from the facts about the Neva District can be applied to the whole of St. Petersburg. However, judging by the fact that “all Social-Democratic St. Petersburg” is talking about the unexpected victories of the Socialist-Revolutionaries at the big factories, and that the total number of Social-Democratic delegates is evidently very much larger than that of the Socialist-Revolutionary delegates, we may take it that the facts about the Neva District are more or less typical. It is reported that at the Baltic Works in the Vasilyevsky Ostrov District, which is a Menshevik stronghold, the Socialist-Revolutionaries defeated the Mensheviks by an enormous majority: they obtained as many as 1,600 votes, and the Mensheviks less than 100. On the other hand, at the big Tubing Works in the same district, the Socialist-Revolutionaries also got about 1,600 votes, but the Bolsheviks got about 1,500. Here, one of the ballot boxes was broken, and the Bolsheviks have challenged the elections; they have declared them irregular, and have demanded their annulment. Or take another report. At the Franco-Russian Works, from which the swaggering Menshevik intellectuals “brought” 370 exclusively Menshevik votes to the St. Petersburg Social-Democratic Conference, a Bolshevik and a Socialist-Revolutionary were elected delegates. In the Vyborg District, that Menshevik stronghold, the Socialist-Revolutionaries defeated the Menshevik Social-Democrats, and so on and so forth.
To be able to verify all these reports and obtain exact data, it is absolutely necessary immediately, while the elections are still fresh in our minds, to collect particulars about all factories which elected delegates. Local Social-Democratic Party officials can easily collect and record the figures for each particular factory. A summary of these figures is essential to us Social-Democrats, to enable us conscientiously to examine the results of the elections so as not to gloss cravenly over our mistakes and short comings, but subject them to Party criticism and exert all our efforts to eliminate them.
We cannot conduct consistent Social-Democratic work in St. Petersburg unless we pay close attention to the way in which the masses of the workers have voted for the candidates of the various parties. For the bourgeois parties it is important only to win so many seats. For us it is important for the masses themselves to understand the tenets and tactics of Social-Democracy as distinct from all petty-bourgeois parties, even though they may call themselves revolutionary, socialist parties. We must therefore strive to obtain exact and complete data on the voting at the elections in the St. Petersburg worker curia.
We therefore earnestly appeal to all local district and subdistrict Social-Democratic officials in St. Petersburg to furnish us with exact data on the following: (1) district; (2) name of factory; (3) number of workers employed; (4) number of persons who voted; (5) the political trend represented by the contending candidates: Socialist-Revolutionary, Bolshevik, Menshevik, or other parties; (6) number of votes cast for each candidate. A summary of this data will serve as a solid basis on which to judge the various aspects of Social-Democratic work and our possible gains or losses in the next elections.