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The Ukraine and the Defeat of the Ruling Parties of Russia

V. I. Lenin

The ruling parties of Russia, i. e., the Cadets, who have a majority in the government and the omnipotence of capital in the economy, and the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, who now have an obvious majority in the country (but who are powerless in the government and in the country's capitalist economy), have all suffered an obvious defeat over the Ukrainian issue, and what is more, a nation-wide defeat over an issue of vast importance.

The Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks put up with the fact that the Provisional Government of the Cadets, i. e., of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, had not done its elementary democratic duty, had not declared itself in favour of the Ukraine's autonomy and of her right to freely secede. According to Minister Chernov's report in today's Dyelo Naroda, the Ukrainians demanded far less than that. They only wanted the Provisional Government "to declare by a special act that it is not opposed to the Ukrainian people's right to autonomy". This is a most modest and legitimate demand. The other two demands are just as modest: (1) The Ukraine should through her own people elect one representative to the central Russian Government. The modesty of this demand can be seen from the fact that in 1897 the Great Russians in Russia were estimated at 43 per cent, and the Ukrainians at 17 percent of the population. In other words, the Ukrainians could have insisted on having not one but six Ministers out of the sixteen!! (2) In the Ukraine there should be "one representative of the central Russian Government elected by the local population". What could be more legitimate than this? By what right does a democrat make free to depart from the principle, proved in theory and confirmed by the experience of democratic revolutions, that "no officials for the local population should be appointed from above"??

The Provisional Government's rejection of these very modest and legitimate demands was an instance of utter shamelessness, of savage impertinence, on the part of the counter-revolutionaries, and a true manifestation of the policy of Derzhimorda.[1] The Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks made a mockery of their own party programmes by tolerating that in the government, and are now defending it in their papers! I To what a disgraceful level the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks have fallen! How pitiful the subterfuges of their organs, Dyelo Naroda and Rabochaya Gazeta, are today!

Chaos, confusion, "Leninism over the national question", anarchy—these are a wild landowner's outcries[2] that the two newspapers are hurling at the Ukrainians.

Let us ignore their outcries. What is the substance of their argument?

Their only argument is that until a Constituent Assembly is convened it will be impossible to settle in a "regular" manner the issue of the Ukraine's boundaries, her freedom, her right to collect taxes, and so on and so forth. They insist on a "guarantee of regularity"—this expression used in Rabochaya Gazeta's editorial gives the whole gist of their argument.

But that is an obvious lie, gentlemen, it is a manifestly shameless thing on the part of the counter-revolutionaries. For to advance such an argument means actually helping real traitors to the revolution!!

"Guarantees of regularity" ... stop and think for a second. Nowhere in Russia, neither in the central government nor in any local department (except in a very small institution, the Petrograd district councils), is there any guarantee of regularity. In fact, there is admittedly no regularity. There is admittedly no "regularity" in the existence of the Duma or of the Council of State.[3]

There is admittedly no "regularity" in the composition of the Provisional Government, for its composition is a mockery of the will and intelligence of the majority of Russia's workers, soldiers and peasants. There is admittedly no "regularity" in the composition of the Soviets (of Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Deputies), for these institutions have not yet worked out any guarantees of really complete and strictly democratic elections. Still, this does not prevent either our Party or the mass of the workers and peasants from regarding the Soviets as the best exponent of the will of the majority of the population so far. Nowhere in Russia are there, can there be, or have there ever been at a revolutionary time like the present any "guarantees of regularity". Everyone realises that, no one asks anything different, everyone is aware that it is inevitable.

It is only for the Ukraine that "we" demand "guarantees of regularity"!

You are paralysed with fear, Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik gentlemen, having yielded to the counter revolutionary howls of the Great-Russian landowners and capitalists led by Rodzyanko, Milyukov, Lvov, Tereshchenko, Nekrasov, Shingaryov and Co. You are already the perfect picture of people overawed by the rising Cavaignacs (and those "lying low?").

There is absolutely nothing terrible, not the shadow of anarchy or chaos, either in the resolutions or in the demands of the Ukrainians. Accede to their most legitimate and most modest demands and authority will be just as effective in the Ukraine as it is everywhere in Russia, where the Soviets (which have no "guarantees of regularity"!!) are the sole authority. You and all the peoples of Russia will be given a "guarantee of regularity" by the future Diets, by the future Constituent Assembly, not only in regard to the Ukrainian issue, but in regard to all issues. For at this moment there is admittedly no "regularity" in Russia about any issue. Accede to the Ukrainians—common sense demands it. For, unless you do, things will be worse. Force will not check the Ukrainians. It will only embitter them. Accede to the Ukrainians, and you will open the way to mutual confidence and brotherly union between the two nations on the basis of equality!

The Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, who constitute ruling parties, have been defeated over the Ukrainian issue by yielding to the counter-revolutionary Cadet Cavaignacs.


[1] Derzhimorda—a policeman in Gogol's Inspector-General, a boorish, insolent oppressor, a petty tyrant.

[2] Wild Landowner—a character in M. Saltykov-Shchedrin's fairy-tale of the same name.

[3] The Council of State—one of the supreme organs of state power in tsarist Russia; was established in 1810, according to M. M. Speransky's plan, as a legislative-advisory body whose members were appointed and confirmed by the tsar. A reactionary institution, it voted down even moderate Bills approved by the Duma.

Published: First published in Pravda No. 84, June 30 (17), 1917.
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 99-102.

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