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The Bourgeoisie Bargains with the Autocracy, The Autocracy Bargains with the Bourgeoisie

V. I. Lenin

Almost every day brings fresh evidence of this "bargaining", to which we have been directing the attention of the Russian proletarians for so long a time. Here is an interesting telegram from M. Leroux dated St. Petersburg, July 2 (new style): A meeting of municipal and Zemstvo representatives held on June 28 and 29 (15 and 16, old style) once more (for the hundredth time!) formulated constitutional demands and telegraphed them to the ministries. The demands are higher than usual: popular representation is made an absolute condition, and is to be incorporated in the constitution; the "Bulygin" Constitution is rejected outright; the demand is put forth for the immediate proclamation of the inviolability of the person, freedom of speech, etc. The conference is said to have unanimously adopted (but not to have included in the petition—in bargaining one must not show all one's cards!) the demand for universal suffrage.

How does the correspondent of the bourgeois paper judge this significant increase in the demands of the landlords and manufacturers? Oh, his judgement is a most sober one:

"It is obvious," he writes, "that the delegates demand more in order to get at least a little. But it is certain also that this little, to be acceptable to them, must lie between that which they demand and that which Bulygin is offering them."

A veritable market, at which the bourgeoisie is bargaining away the rights and interests of the Russian workers and the Russian peasants. As in a market, the buyer—the bourgeoisie, and the seller—the tsar shake hands on the bargain, shout for the hundredth time that this is their "last word", swear that they are "losing money", threaten to go away, but cannot bring themselves to break up their close friendship.

If the tsar does not meet our demands, "one of the most prominent members of the [Zemstvo] conference" said to M. Leroux, "we will appeal to the people".

What is one to understand by this oft-repeated "appeal to the people"? the French correspondent asks himself and his readers. And he answers: here there is no Faubourg St. Antoine (the workers' district in Paris; cf. the article in Vperyod, No. 2[1]). The people are inclined to keep off the street and to stay at home, to protest in the Tolstoian manner by refusing to pay taxes!...

Do not slander the people, you bourgeois betrayers of liberty! No slander will ever cleanse the stain of your shameful cowardice. The people are shedding their blood throughout Russia. Faubourgs St. Antoine of our own are springing up in a number of towns and in countless villages. The people are waging a desperate struggle. If you had really wanted to "appeal to the people" (and not merely threaten your ally, the tsar, to do so) you should not have assigned hundreds and thousands of rubles for your talking-shops, but millions for the armed uprising. You should have elected a delegation, not to cool its heels in the antechambers of the tsar, but to make contact with the revolutionary par ties, with the revolutionary people.

The tsar and his gang know only too well that you are incapable of doing so because you are afraid for your money bags, because you are afraid of the people. Therefore the tsar is entirely right in treating you as flunkeys; in feeding you the same old promises, the same old Bulygin Constitution; in assuming that you will not dare to make even a real, emphatic protest, not even against that Bulygin sop. Small wonder that the special correspondent of the Journal de Genève, a "respectable" liberal paper, wrote recently: "The liberals do not conceal from themselves the imperfections [!] of the Bulygin plan, but they think it should be accepted in the interests of order and progress.... To reject the government's plan would mean deliberately to destroy the last hope for a peaceful outcome to the present conflict between the people and the bureaucratic regime." (The last sentence is underscored by the correspondent himself.)

The bourgeoisie wants peace with the tsar and fears the war of the people against the tsar. The tsar wants peace with the bourgeoisie, but does not fear the war with the people, which he has started and is ruthlessly continuing. Is it not obvious that if the people fail to achieve complete victory in spite of the treachery of the bourgeoisie, the inevitable outcome of this situation will be the Bulygin Constitution?

[1] The reference is to A. V. Lunacharsky's article "Outline of the His tory of the Revolutionary Struggle of the European Proletariat", published in Vperyod, No. 2, January 14 (1), 1905.

Published: Proletary, No. 7, July 10 (June 27), 1905.
Published according to the text in Proletary.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 574-576.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Isidor Lasker

eSource: Marxists.org - Marxists Internet Archive
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