Word and Deed
V. I. Lenin
We are constantly making the mistake in Russia of judging the slogans and tactics of a certain party or group, of judging its general trend, by the intentions or motives that the group claims for itself. Such judgement is worthless. The road to hell—as was said long ago—is paved with good intentions.
It is not a matter of intentions, motives or words but of the objective situation, independent of them, that determines the fate and significance of slogans, of tactics or, in general, of the trend of a given party or group.
Let us approach the analysis of the most important questions of the contemporary working-class movement from that point of view. The strike in St. Petersburg on July 1—3 involved over 62,000 workers even according to the estimates of the bourgeois papers Rech and Russkoye Slovo, which always give reduced figures in these cases.
We are, therefore, faced with the fact that a mass, over 60,000 strong, went into action. As we know, the direct reason for the strike was to protest against the persecution of the working-class press, the daily confiscation of newspapers, etc., etc. We also know from reports even in such newspapers as Novoye Vremya, Rech, Sovremenka and Russkoye Slovo that workers stressed, in their speeches and in other ways, the nation-wide significance of the protest.
How did the various classes of Russian society react to the event? What position did they adopt?
We know that Rossiya, Zemshchina and similar papers printed the usual sharply condemnatory statements—often accompanied by the crudest invective, threats, etc. There is nothing new in that. It is understandable. It is inevitable.
Much "newer" is the amazing indifference of the bourgeoisie, as reflected in the indifference of the liberal news papers; furthermore, in many cases this indifference changes to a negative attitude, whereas working-class actions that were less important, numerically less significant (17 or 18 years ago), met with the obvious sympathy of liberal-bourgeois society. Here we undoubtedly have a decisive liberal turn to the right, away from democracy and against democracy.
With reference to the events of July 1—3 in St. Petersburg, one of the most widely circulated, if not the most widely circulated, newspapers in Russia (the liberal Russkoye Slovo) said:
"It is interesting to note the attitude to this strike on the part of the Social-Democratic newspapers published in St. Petersburg. The Social-Democratic Pravda devotes considerable space to yesterday’s [written on July 3] strike, but the organ of the so-called liquidators’ group, the newspaper Luch, confines itself to a small note on the strike and devotes a leading article to political strikes [Luch, July 2], in which the newspaper protests against such actions by the workers." (Russkoye Slovo, July 3, 1913.)
Such are the facts. Hostility on the part of the reactionaries. Indifference and denial by the liberals and liquidators. Unity of liberalism and liquidationism in deed. Unity of mass working-class action, possible only in the struggle against the liquidators.
The proletariat cannot do its democratic duty, serve as the advanced contingent, give service to, educate and consolidate the masses of the people other than by a decisive struggle against the liquidators, who, in fact, are completely dependent on liberalism.
The liberals, too, frequently play at being radicals from the Duma rostrum and do it as well as the various near-Marxist or wavering elements, hut that does not prevent the liberals from fighting (with the aid of the liquidators) the democratic aspirations of the masses outside the Duma.
Sovremenka refers to Sovremennoye Slovo (Contemporary Word)—a Cadet daily published in St. Petersburg from 1907 to 1918.
Rossiya (Russia)—a Black-Hundred daily published in St. Petersburg from 1905 to 1914. From 1906 onwards it was the organ of the Ministry of the Interior. Lenin called it "a venal police news paper"
Published: Rabochaya Pravda No. 3, July 16, 1913.
Published according to the Rabochaya Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 262-265.
Translated: The Late George Hanna
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