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Capitalism and "Parliament"

V. I. Lenin

The facts of democracy must not make us lose sight of a circumstance, often overlooked by bourgeois democrats, that in the capitalist countries representative institutions inevitably give rise to specific forms in which capital exercises its influence on the state power. We have no parliament, but then there is no end of parliamentary cretinism among the liberals and of parliamentary licence among all the bourgeois deputies.

The workers must thoroughly master this truth if they want to learn how to use representative institutions for promoting the political consciousness, unity, activity and efficiency of the working class. All the social forces hostile to the proletariat—the "bureaucrats", landowners and capitalists—are already using these representative institutions against the workers. One has to know how they are doing this if one wants to learn to uphold the independent interests of the working class and its independent development.

The Third Duma decided to award bonuses to home manufacturers of machinery. Who are these borne manufacturers? The ones "operating" in Russia!

But upon examination we find that they, are foreign capitalists who have transferred their plants to Russia. Tariff rates are high and profits immense, so foreign capital is moving into Russia. For instance, an American trust—a corporation of capitalist millionaires—has built a huge farm machinery works in Lyubertsi, near Moscow. In Kharkov, farm machines are made by the capitalist Melhose and in Berdyansk by the capitalist John Grieves. These manufacturers are very much of the "truly Russian", "home" variety, aren’t they?

But, of course, unless they were helped in every way by Russian capitalists, they would have been unable to operate in Russia at all. One good turn deserves another. American, British and German capitalists rake in profits with the help of Russian capitalists, who get quite a big share. Take, for example, the Lena gold-fields or the mining enterprises in the Urals. How many millions foreign and Russian capitalists have shared between them there!

The Duma is very useful to the industrialists in this respect. Both in the Duma and in the Council of State, the capitalists have a goodly number of representatives. The landlords, too, would not amount to much nowadays without capital. For both the capitalists and the landlords, the Duma is a ready-made machinery for passing laws on "bonuses" (to be awarded to themselves), protective tariffs (i.e., another form of bonuses to themselves), concessions (a third form of bonuses to themselves), and so on, without limit.

The "Sceptic", a liberal writing in the liberal Rech, had some very apt comments to make on this matter. He writes with so much feeling against the "nationalists" (who awarded themselves "bonuses" to stimulate the "home" manufacture of machinery by Messrs, Grieves, Melhose, Elworthy, and other companies) that I, too, have become somewhat infected with scepticism.

Yes, the liberal "Sceptic" has not made a bad job of exposing the "nationalists". But why does he say nothing about the Cadets? When Golovin, for instance, was seeking a concession, did not his position as member of the Duma and former Chairman of the Duma stand him in good stead in that useful and lucrative pursuit?

When Maklakov was gobbling up his "Tagiyev" fees, did not his position as member of the Duma make it easier for him to get such "profitable" cases?[1]

And what about the numerous other Cadet landlords, merchants, capitalists, financiers, lawyers and brokers who extended their business, promoted their "connections", and put through their "affairs", thanks to their position as members of the Duma and to the benefits and advantages that position affords?

What if an inquiry were made into financial transactions carried out by Duma members or with the aid of Duma members?

But no—in all capitalist countries measures have been taken to protect "trade secrets" and to guarantee that not a single "parliament" should permit such an inquiry.

However, the working-class deputies undoubtedly know a great deal about this matter; and if they took pains to look around, obtain additional Information, collect material, look up newspaper files, inquire at the stock exchange, etc., they could themselves carry out a very instructive and useful "inquiry" into the business transactions carried out by Duma members or with the aid of such members.

In European parliaments, such transactions are well known, and the workers constantly expose them, naming the persons involved, so as to enlighten the people.

[1] This refers to the following facts:
In October 1910 F.A. Golovin, a member of the Third Duma, announced that he was resigning his powers as a deputy, and shortly afterwards took an active part in a railway concession.

In March 1912 V.A. Maklakov, another member of the Third Duma, in spite of his status as a deputy, acted as defence counsel for Tagiyev, a big oil industrialist of Baku charged with manhandling Bebutov, an engineer employed by him.

Published: Nevskaya Zvezda No. 13, June 17, 1912. Signed: A Non-Liberal Sceptic.
Published according to the text in Nevskaya Zvezda.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 129-131.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan

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