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Violations of Democracy in Mass Organisations

V. I. Lenin

We must pass a resolution branding as a fraud[1] worthy of Nicholas II such practices as those of the Soviet of Soldiers' Deputies (the soldiers have one representative to every 500 people, while the workers have 1 : 1,000)[2] or the Trade Union Bureau (1 representative to a members in the small unions and 1 to a-b members in the large ones).

What sort of democrats are we if we tacitly put up with this fraud?

What is wrong with Nicholas II, for that matter, who also “allowed” unequal representation from the peasants and from the landowners??

By tolerating such things, we are prostituting democracy.

We must pass a resolution demanding equal suffrage (both in the Soviets and at trade union congresses), branding the slightest departure from equality as a fraud—using exactly this word—as a Nicholas II method. This resolution of the plenary meeting of the Central Committee must be written in a language everybody can understand and spread in leaflet form among the mass of the workers.

We cannot tolerate a fraud of democracy if we call ourselves “democrats”. We are not democrats but unprincipled people if we tolerate this!!


[1] “One representative, everywhere, to an equal number of electors” is the ABC of democracy. Anything else is a fraud. —Lenin

[2] In view of the elections to the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, the workers' section of the Soviet on August 23 (September 5), 1917, raised the question of revising the system of election to the Soviet under which workers elected one delegate from 1,000 persons while soldiers elected one delegate from each unit. As a result, the soldiers had a considerably greater number of deputies to the Soviet than the workers. The workers' section adopted a resolution saying that the system of election to the Soviet should be revised and organised on the principle of proportional representation, that is, one delegate from every thousand voters. The soldiers' section, however, which met on August 25 ( September 7), voted down the proposal. The S.R.s succeeded in putting through their own resolution, which left the electoral system intact.

Written: Written not later than September 3 (16), 1917
Published: First published in Lenin Miscellany VII, 1928. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, page 308.

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