V. I. Lenin

The Octobrists and the Working-Class Movement

Published: Za Pravdu No. 10, October 15, 1913. Printed from the Za Pravdu text. Signed: K - p o v.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 292.2-294.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

The current political situation in Russia is of especial interest. The negotiations between the Cadets, the Progressists and the Octobrists on common “opposition” tactics in the Duma, on the one hand, and the working-class movement, on the other, testify not only to a “revival”, but to something else as well.

One of the highly instructive documents of our interesting period is the appeal issued by the Central Committee of the Union of October Seventeen to party members, urging them (according to Rech) to “discard their apathy and set about working with vigour”.

According to the Octobrist C.C., “now that the revolutionary forces are once again coming into motion, evidence of which is incidentally provided by the strikes, all high-minded   citizens sincerely desirous of the state’s progressive development should join the Union of October Seventeen, thereby increasing its membership and enhancing its prestige”.

The work of the Octobrists, their C.C. believes, should “paralyse the influence of the destructive elements who are again raising their voice in importunate and vociferous calls for another revolution in Russia’s political and social system. The Central Committee gives a reminder of the sacrifices the state and society will have to suffer, if high-minded men now sit back and shun social activity. The Central Committee is sure that millions of loyal Russian citizens will not allow a handful of revolutionaries to ruin Russia”.

That is how Rech (No. 275) reports the contents of the interesting appeal from the Octobrist C.C., without apparently finding any departures in it from normal Octobrist policy.

Let us examine the appeal of the Octobrist C.C. as a document characterising the history of our time. The Octobrists are invited to “discard apathy”. This means that there has been apathy up to now, doesn’t it? When the forces of reaction were triumphant, the Octobrists were apathetic. When it looked as if the forces of reaction would be adequate to maintain “order”—the Octobrists were satisfied and saw no need to “set about working”. When the forces of reaction have proved to be inadequate (the forces opposed to the reactionaries “are once again coming into motion”)—then... then the Octobrists vigorously set about the business of helping reaction.

Indeed, is it not helping reaction for an influential Duma group to start bashing the “importunate and vociferous” Left-wingers, their desire to “ruin Russia”? Just think: a “handful” only, and they threaten to “ruin Russia”! The Left-wingers, whose newspapers (numbering at least a dozen all over Russia) are being confiscated almost daily, are remarkable, please note, for their “importunity and vociferousness”! And that, you will note, is a word-for-word repetition of the truly importunate and vociferous phrases which the reader will find any day in the Black-Hundred government press.

This gives us a picture of what the preaching of “progressive” ideas “in the spirit of the October 17 Manifesto” has   actually come to. As soon as the working-class movement gained in strength and brought about a general revival in social life, our bourgeois “Progressists” at once bared their teeth, not against reaction, but against the working-class movement.

Russia is again facing a balance of forces, similar to the one in evidence eight or nine years ago, but on an extended scale, over a wider field. At that time, the Octobrists, the Progressists and the Cadets were still undifferentiated and existed together as a united and ostensibly “leading society”. It would appear that we now have three developed political parties of the bourgeoisie—the Octobrists, the Progressists and the Cadets—who have gone through and tried themselves out in three Dumas and in the eventful years from 1906 to 1912. There is an ideal division of labour between them: the Octobrists declare outright war on the Left, and do so in the resolute Black-Hundred spirit; the Progressists were in agreement with the Octobrists yesterday, and today are doing the same thing, promising to pursue this respectable occupation for a long time; the Cadets, for their part, have also long been in “agreement” with the Progressists, friends of the Octobrists, assuring the people of their democratism, you will pardon the expression.

If the working-class movement eight years ago ignored all the Octobrist and the Cadet overt and covert betrayals and vacillations, there is good reason to believe that the workers have not grown more stupid since then.


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