Pravda No. 15, January 19, 1913.
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, , Moscow, Volume 18, pages 522-523.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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In his “Motley Encounters” published in the New-Year issue of Rech, Mr. Tan touched on an important question to which the workers should pay serious attention. It is the question of the growing numbers of new democrats.
“For about a year or perhaps more,” wrote Mr. Tan, “the river of life has been changing and shifting again. Instead of the water decreasing, there has been an increase, coming from God knows where, probably from the bowels of the earth and from distant springs. All was quiet and empty for three years. Now there are people appearing, crawling one after another out of various crevices and dark corners....
“People of peasant stock who have come up from below are the most interesting. Their name is legion. They have flooded the middle walks of life and are even aiming at the higher ones, especially in the provinces. Technicians, accountants, agronomists, teachers, all sorts of Zemstvo clerks. They are all alike—grey-faced, broad-boned, uncouth-looking; they are not liable to reflexes, and are, indeed, as tough as cats.... Life must have taken yet another step upwards, for we commoners compared with them are as the nobility were compared with us.”
This is very apt and true, although we should not forget that the old as well as the new commoners, those “of peasant stock”, the democratic intelligentsia and semi-intelligentsia, represent the bourgeoisie as distinct from the semi-feudal nobility.
But the bourgeoisie consists of different strata having different historical possibilities. The upper ranks of the bourgeoisie and of the wealthy bourgeois intelligentsia—lawyers, professors, journalists, deputies, etc.—almost invariably gravitate towards an alliance with the Purishkeviches. Thousands of economic threads link this bourgeoisie to them.
On the other hand, the peasant bourgeoisie and the new intelligentsia “of peasant stock” are linked by a thousand threads to the mass of the disfranchised, downtrodden, ignorant, starving peasantry, and by virtue of all their living conditions are hostile to all Purishkevichism, to any alliance with it.
This new democratic element, which is more numerous and stands closer to the life of the millions, is rapidly learning, gaining strength and growing. It is for the most part full of vague opposition sentiments and feeds on liberal trash. One of the great and responsible tasks of the politically-conscious workers is to help these democrats to get rid of the influence of liberal prejudices. Only in so far as they over come these prejudices, cast off the wretched burden of liberal illusions, break with the liberals and hold out their hand to the workers are they, Russia’s new democrats, destined to do something real for the cause of freedom.