Zvezda, No. 28, May 28, 1911.
Published according to the Zvezda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, , Moscow, Volume 17, pages 206-210.
Translated: Dora Cox
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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During the “historic” sitting of the Duma on April 27 Mr. Teslenko, who took issue with Mr. Stolypin, said in part:
“The Chairman of the Council of Ministers said to the State Duma: Yes, gentlemen, I shall come to your assistance in the very near future. There is the Bill about the Old Believers—you’ll probably arrange matters so as to vote it down before the recess, and then it will be put into effect during the recess. I even imagined in this a sort of flippant we-know-each-other-well tone, as if we were told: why, we did this together. And, gentlemen, forgive me if it reminds me of the scene in the Inspector-General, in which the Mayor of the town says: ‘Ah! So you’ve come to lodge a complaint against me? Have you forgotten how we did this and that together?’ And, I presume, gentlemen, that those among you who, perhaps, once counted on this assistance, or who, perhaps, still count on it, must have felt embarrassed and, perhaps, thought (and you did well if you did think so): ‘God preserve us from such friends, we can cope with our enemies ourselves’.”
By these words, Mr. Teslenko, according to the Verbatim Report, earned “applause from the Left”, apparently from the benches of the people’s freedom group. The Cadets regarded it as fitting irony directed against the Octobrists. But in this case, as in many others, they applauded without giving thought to the profound meaning of the words which their speaker let fall. They applauded believing that these words wounded only the Octobrists, that they compromised only their particularly hated rivals. They did not realise that Mr. Teslenko’s apt phrase, if its meaning is seriously analysed, represents a truth which stigmatises both the Octobrists and the Cadets. It is worth dwelling on this truth at greater length for it concerns one of the most vital questions of the past five or six years—and what years!—of Russia’s political history.
“We did this together”—well put, Mr. Teslenko. But it would, perhaps, be more correct to put it this way: you have excellently repeated what has been said time and again at “Left” “meetings” which are usually so disparaged by the Cadet gentlemen. “We did this together”—these words by no means apply only to bills in the Third Duma, they by no means apply only to the notorious so-called “miscellany”. They apply to everything that the Stolypins and the Russian liberal bourgeoisie (or the bourgeoisie that has pretended to be liberal) “have done together” ever since the end of 1905. As for Mr. Stolypin’s “flippant tone”, it was not something that the Cadet speaker merely “imagined”, it was precisely the tone Stolypin assumes in all his speeches, it is the tone of the whole policy of the Stolypins in dealing with the bourgeoisie (who, in the persons of the Octobrist and Cadet deputies, incidentally, constitute the majority in the Third Duma).
This flippant tone—which at every serious turn of events gives way to gross bullying or even to brute force—is account ed for by the fact that not only the Octobrists but the Cadets as well merely play for effect, exclusively for the sake of winning applause (and the Stolypins know this only too well) when they hurl phrases like: “God preserve us from such friends [i.e., from the Stolypins], we can cope with our enemies [meaning, apparently, the reactionaries on the Right, and—how can we express it in the mildest possible terms?—the “exacting” Left] ourselves”.
Had these been more than mere words, Russia would by now have been entirely and irrevocably rid of “such friends”. But the point is that the Cadets hurl such phrases only in the heat of “opposition” speeches—opposition speeches can not be made from the national rostrum unless they are given democratic flavour, even if only a slight one. That is why the Cadets sometimes give vent to democratic statements, which may be usefully compared with the deeds of these same Cadets. The historical role of a bourgeoisie playing at democracy (or threatening the enemy on the right with democracy) is such that this “playing” with words sometimes serves a useful purpose for some sections of the popular masses since it awakens sincere and profound democratic thought. “When the fiddle is played upstairs, people downstairs want to dance.” There is a Latin proverb that says: Littera scripta manet—“what is written is permanent”. Nor do spoken words always disappear, even if they are mere words and only spoken for effect.
It does not follow, of course, that hypocritical phrases uttered by the Cadets may be accepted at their face value, and that they may be proclaimed or regarded as an expression of democracy. But it certainly does follow that we ought to make use of every hypocritical phrase uttered by a Cadet so long as it has a democratic ring; that we ought to make use of it, first, to demonstrate the divergence between the words and the deeds of the man uttering them, and, secondly, to show what real, vital and direct significance democracy has for those masses who happen to get an inkling of the flamboyant phrases uttered by the speakers in the Taurida Palace.
The reflections of Mr. Teslenko quoted above are hypocritical, but not because Mr. Teslenko personally was hypocritical in his remarks; he may have been carried away by the torrent of his own oppositionist eloquence. The statement is hypocritical because the words of the representative of the Cadet Party are at variance with the deeds of that party at all serious moments in modern Russian history.
Recall the events of August 1905. What did Mr. Stolypin’s predecessor do at that time? He was setting the stage for the Bulygin Duma and for elections to it. What did Mr. Teslenko and his friends do at that time? Within the limits of their forces and in line with their “speciality” in the sphere of public activity, they were setting the stage for those same elections. Mr. Bulygin (and Mr. Stolypin) would be justified in saying to Mr. Teslenko: “We did this together”. And Mr. Teslenko “did this together” for the very reason that he was fearful of being left without those “friends” of his, of whom he now says so magnificently, with the courage of a knight errant: “God preserve us from such friends.”...
Recall the events that took place three months after the promulgation of Bulygin’s State Duma Act. What did Mr. Stolypin’s predecessor do at that time? He resisted, for instance, the movement of the postal and telegraph employees and the numerous ramifications of similar movements. Mr. Teslenko, or, at any rate, his party as personified by Mr. Struve, Mr. Karaulov, and others, resisted—in its own way—the same movement. Mr. Witte (and Mr. Stolypin) would be justified in saying to the Teslenkos: “We did this together”. It was the same in the case of the working-class holiday on May 1, 1906, in the case of the “local land committees” a little later, and in 1907, systematically and invariably, in the attitude to the worker and peasant deputies to the Second Duma, and so on, and so forth.
This policy, which the Cadet Party has been pursuing for many years, was summed up correctly by the well-known Cadet writer Mr. Izgoyev when he declared in Vekhi:
“We must at last have the courage to admit that the Vast majority of members of our State Dumas, with the exception of thirty or forty Cadets and Octobrists, have not shown themselves to possess the knowledge required to under take the job of governing and reconstructing Russia.”
Mr. Izgoyev’s “courageous admission” is courageous because, abandoning all appearances and all diplomacy, he has blurted out some words of truth. It is true that in “our State Dumas” the Cadets have indeed been guided by the landowner, bourgeois, liberal-monarchist “knowledge”, which could not satisfy “the vast majority of members”, particularly those on the left. And it goes without saying, of course, that Stolypin fought these latter members, and in fighting them relied for support on the “knowledge” (or, more correctly: on the interests and point of view) of “thirty or forty Cadets and Octobrists”. Mr. Stolypin would be justified in saying to the entire Cadet Party: “We did this together”—together we fought against the clumsiness, inexperience, and ignorance of the workers and peasants.
The principal result of this year’s session of the Duma is that the excessively “flippant tone” assumed by Stolypin towards the majority of the Third Duma—and, moreover, towards its bourgeois, Octobrist-Cadet, majority—proved too much even for this majority, which cannot be suspected of lacking in patience. The old regime assumes a flippant attitude towards the bourgeoisie, even though the latter is well aware of its own importance under the new, present day economic conditions, and is longing for independence, even for power. The Article 87 episode brought out this flippant attitude so sharply and, at the same time, affronted some of the mighty of this world so crudely, that even the most patient of people began to grumble. But grumbling is as far as they can go. They are bound hand and foot, and that is why they cannot go any farther. They are bound because at every important juncture of Russian history, in the course of all these last years, they have been afraid of the broad popular movement and turned their backs upon it; they have been hostile to the forces of democracy—to the real, live, active, mass forces of democracy—and have shunned them, attacked them from the rear in the same way as Stolypin has attacked them. And with these facts behind them, the Octobrists and the Cadets now suffer the penalty they deserve; in point of fact, they have nothing with which to parry Stolypin when he assumes a flippant tone and tells them: “If I am an enemy of democracy, you, my dear sirs, have proved that you are afraid of democracy—’we did this together’”.
 The Bulygin Duma—the “advisory representative assembly” which the tsarist government promised to convene in 1905. The Act for its convocation and the regulations governing the elections were drafted by a commission presided over by Minister of the Interior Bulygin, and, published on August 6 (19), 1905. The Bolsheviks proclaimed an active boycott of the Bulygin Duma, and its convocation was prevented by the forces of the revolution.