The Election Campaign and the Beginning of the Work of the Fourth State Duma

Chapter I

The Elections to the Fourth Duma

Why the Social-Democrats took part in the Elections – Electoral Programme of the Bolsheviks – Workers' Suffrage – The Elections in the Large Towns – How the Government Prepared the Elections – The Bolsheviks on blocs with other Parties – The Role of Pravda in the Election Campaign

The Third State Duma, which was the first Duma to complete the full legal period of five years, was dissolved in the middle of the summer of 1912. It had a majority of nobles and landlords, and proved an obedient tool in the hands of the government. The fractions of the Social-Democrats and the bourgeois democrats (Trudoviks) were small in number and were of course unable to prevent the Duma from passing all the bills submitted to it by the government. The Cadets, the party of the liberal bourgeoisie, although professedly in opposition to the government, were afraid of resolute words and deeds. Under the slogan of "saving the Duma," the Cadets and the Progressives, a group akin to them, were quiet and submissive, allowing the majority on the Right to do as they pleased. The Third Duma gave the government all that it desired, it was a "law-abiding and efficient" people's representation.

In a survey of the five years' work of the Third State Duma, on the day after its dissolution, Pravda wrote as follows:

The entire activity of the State Duma was directed towards the preservation of the class interests of its majority. Therefore these five years of an "efficient" Duma did not in any way assist in the solution of a series of urgent questions which are of enormous importance to the country. All attempts made by the Left Parties, by means of interpellations, to shed light on the dark aspects of Russian life and to draw to them the attention of the country were frustrated by the votes of the dominant majority.... A good riddance.

With these words Pravda took farewell of the Third Duma, expressing thereby the general attitude of the workers and peasants.

The Fourth Duma was to follow in the footsteps of the Third. The electoral law remained the same, and therefore the majority in the new Duma was bound to be as Black Hundred as before. There was no doubt that the activities of the Fourth Duma would also be directed against the workers and that its legislation would be of no use either to the workers or the peasantry.

In spite of these considerations the Social-Democratic Party decided to take an active part in the elections as it had done in those for the Second and Third Dumas. The experience of the preceding years had shown the great importance of an election campaign from the standpoint of agitation, and the important role played by Social-Democratic fractions in the Duma. Our fractions, while refusing to take part in the so-called “positive” work of legislation, used the Duma rostrum for revolutionary agitation. The work of the Social-Democratic fractions outside the Duma was still more important; they were becoming the organising centres of Party work in Russia. Therefore our Party decided that active participation in the campaign was necessary.

Thus, while there was no difference of opinion within the ranks of the Social-Democratic Party with regard to participation in the elections, there was a sharp clash between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks over the electoral tactics and over the role of the future Duma fraction.

The problem of the Fourth State Duma was only one of the problems of current Party work, but it reflected all the differences between the two factions of the Russian Social-Democracy. As early as January 1912, six months before the dissolution of the Third Duma, the Prague Conference of the Party framed the programme for the forthcoming election campaign. The Conference recognised that "the task to which all other tasks should be subordinated was socialist propaganda on class lines and the organisation of the working class." The tactical line of the Party at the elections was defined as follows:

...the Party must wage a merciless war against the tsarist autocracy and the parties of landlords and capitalists that support it, persistently exposing at the same time the counter-revolutionary views and false democracy of the bourgeois liberals (with the Cadet party at their head). Special attention should be paid in the election campaign to maintaining the independence of the party of the proletariat from all the non-proletarian parties, to revealing the petty bourgeois nature of the pseudo-socialism of the democratic groups (mainly the Trudoviks, the Narodniks, and the Socialist-Revolutionaries), and to exposing the harm done to the cause of democracy by their vacillations on questions of mass revolutionary struggle.

The Bolsheviks regarded the election campaign to the State Duma as an opportunity for far-reaching agitation and propaganda and as one of the means of organising the masses. By attempting to secure the election of their own candidates, the Bolsheviks did not transform the campaign into a mere struggle for a few seats in the Duma. The activity of the Duma fraction both within and outside the Duma had great revolutionary importance. But the election campaign itself was of no less importance and throughout its course the revolutionary position of Social-Democracy had to be preserved in all its purity, without being toned down or retouched for any secondary considerations.

What were the arguments of the Menshevik-Liquidators? Their estimate of the coming election campaign to the Fourth Duma proceeded from the assumption that only two camps would fight: the reactionaries and the Black Hundreds on the one hand, and the Liberals on the other (a bloc was expected to be formed of the Cadets, the Progressives, and the Left Octobrists). Proceeding from this estimate, they proclaimed as the slogan for the campaign the necessity of "striving to oust reaction from its position in the Duma," of "wresting the Duma from the hands of reaction," etc. In its essence this position of the Mensheviks meant that the election campaign would be conducted hand in glove with the Liberals.

The divergences between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks were still more strikingly manifested in their respective political platforms advanced during the election campaign. In the resolution of the Prague Conference referred to above, the Bolsheviks defined the political platform to be advocated during the elections as follows:

The principal slogans of our Party at the coming elections should be the following: (1) a democratic republic, (2) an eight-hour day, (3) the confiscation of all landlords' estates. During the whole of our election campaign these demands should be clearly explained on the basis of the experience of the Third Duma and the entire activity of the government in the sphere of both central and local administration. The rest of the Social-Democratic minimum programme, such as universal suffrage, freedom of association, popular election of judges and officials, the substitution of an armed people for a standing army, etc., is to be brought up in our propaganda and linked up with the above three slogans.

These three basic slogans of the Bolshevik Party, afterwards called the "three whales," formulated the fundamental demands of the Russian workers and peasants. The slogan of a "democratic republic" directly raised the question of overthrowing tsarism, even though that tsarism was masked by an emasculated Duma. This slogan exposed the "constitutional illusions," and showed the working class that the reforms passed by the State Duma would not help them in the least, and that there was no possibility of improving their lot under the existing form of government.

The other two "whales" expressed the main economic demands of the workers. The eight-hour day was the chief demand in the economic struggle of the working class. Nearly all the strikes, which were continually increasing in extent, were accompanied by the demand for an eight-hour day. The slogan of the confiscation of the landlords' estates offered a revolutionary solution of the agrarian question and formulated the demands and aspirations of the hundred million Russian peasants.

The rest of the minimum programme was linked up with these three basic demands, i.e. the Bolsheviks emphasised that it could only be achieved after the basic demands of the revolutionary movement had been realised.

What was the Menshevik election programme? It was precisely those secondary demands, advanced by the Bolsheviks only in association with the main revolutionary slogans, that the Mensheviks put forward as independent demands.

The Menshevik platform presented the three basic slogans of the Bolsheviks in a weakened form. Instead of "a democratic republic" they demanded the "sovereignty of the people's representatives"; instead of "the confiscation of the landlords' estates" they asked vaguely for a "revision of the agrarian legislation," etc.

The entire Menshevik platform involved the substitution of slogans and demands adapted to the contingencies of a legal movement for those on which the revolutionary struggle of the working class was proceeding.

The electoral law, passed by the government prior to the elections to the First Duma, was so drafted as to secure a majority for the bourgeoisie and the landlords. The voting was not direct but by a system of stages. Various classes of the population (the landlords, the big property-owners in the towns, the peasants, working men, etc.) had first to elect electors, who in turn elected the deputies from amongst themselves. For the peasants and working men the system was still more complicated; the workers, for example, first elected delegates, who in their turn elected electors, and only the latter took part in the Gubernia electoral colleges, which elected the deputies. In addition there were a number of property qualifications – for instance in the towns only householders (tenants of apartments) were entitled to vote.

The complicated electoral machinery devised by the government did not, however, yield the results desired by the latter in the elections to the First and Second Dumas. The majority in those Dumas was in opposition to the government, and both Dumas were dissolved before the expiration of their terms of office. After the dissolution of the Second Duma on June 3, 1907, a new electoral law was passed which still further curtailed the suffrage, and excluded large groups of the population. Special attention was paid to the workers, and the number of electors in the workers' curiae was greatly reduced. However, the framers of the new electoral law did not dare to go so far as to prevent the workers from having any representation in the Duma at all. The law provided that in six specified Gubernias (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kharkov, Kostroma, Vladimir and Yekaterinoslav) the electoral colleges were to elect one deputy from the workers' curiae. But this provision was not extended to the large working class constituencies in the Urals, in Poland, in the Caucasus, etc.

But even this restricted suffrage was not enjoyed by all working men. Only workers who had worked at a given factory for not less than six months were entitled to take part in the election of delegates (the primary stage). On the one hand this provision opened a vast field for corrupt practices, and on the other it made it extremely difficult for the revolutionary parties to select candidates beforehand. A workman could be dismissed on the eve of the election and thus be disqualified from voting; even if he secured work at any other factory, he would not be entitled to vote or be elected because he would not have been employed at this place long enough to qualify.

Notwithstanding these obstacles, it was clear that the elections in the workers' curiae must result in a victory for the radical parties. It was obvious that the workers would not support even the Liberals, let alone the reactionaries.

The case was somewhat different during the elections in the towns, where the electors were divided into two categories: the first embracing the big bourgeoisie, and the second, householders (or occupiers of apartments), among whom there were many thousands of democratic electors, such as working men, artisans, minor officials, clerks, etc. The fight in the second curiae virtually proceeded between the Cadets and the Social-Democrats.

Here, too, the government resorted to a number of tricks in order artificially to reduce the number of electors. One method was provided by the very system used for compiling the lists of electors. Although the law granted the suffrage to all householders who had reached the age of twenty-five, only those were entered on the lists who paid a special house-tax, i.e., those who occupied the large and expensive apartments. All other would-be electors could have their names entered on the lists only by making a special application to the electoral commission. But the electors who made such application had to pass through so many police obstacles as to make them lose all desire to participate in the elections. First of all, it was necessary to obtain a certificate from the police, who did their best to hamper the issue of such certificates. The electors were made to apply repeatedly in person to the chief officer of the appropriate police station; the certificates which they received were deliberately so worded, as to be later declared void by the election commissions, or the elector was told that he was already too late in making his application, and by the time he found out the truth, and established his rights, the period allowed for such application would actually have elapsed.

Another method of restricting the number of electors was the famous "disqualifications," based on an arbitrary interpretation of the law. Such "disqualifications" were issued by all kinds of authorities, and they were aimed not only against individual persons who were regarded with suspicion by the authorities, but against whole groups of the population. Thus, by one stroke of the pen, 95 per cent. of the Jews living beyond the "pale of settlement" were disfranchised. Each governor acted at his own discretion; each police officer interpreted the electoral law in his own way.

During the elections to the Fourth Duma, the tsarist government repeated the "successful" experiment it performed in the elections to the previous Duma.

Immediately after the dissolution of the Third Duma, a special election apparatus was set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs, for the purpose of drafting amendments and supplements to the electoral law with a view to securing a government majority. In some Gubernias, special curiae for the clergy were formed, while in others the clergy were included in the landlords' curiae. The clergy generally played a large part in the elections, and there were a great number of deputies wearing the cassock in all the previous Dumas. The army of the clergy was commanded by the Synod, which instructed them not only how to catch the souls of the parishioners, but also how to catch their votes.

In the outlying regions, where the population consisted mainly of non-Russians, among whom anti-government sentiments prevailed, special Russian curiae were set up, i.e., special Russian groups were formed consisting largely of government officials, who were frequently allotted a number of electors far exceeding that fixed for the native population of the region.

Under such a system of elections, Black Hundred candidates could easily secure election in the mixed city curiae, which contained large masses of indifferent and politically unenlightened voters. Accordingly, the tactics the Social-Democratic Party adopted in the city curiae were different from those adopted in the workers' curiae.

The Bolsheviks thought it necessary to put up candidates in all workers' curiae and would not tolerate any agreements with other parties and groups, including the Menshevik-Liquidators. They also considered it necessary to put up candidates in the so-called "second curiae of city electors" (the first curiae consisted of large property owners and democratic candidates had no chance there at all) and in the elections in the villages, because of the great agitational value of the campaign. But in order to safeguard against the possible victory of reactionary candidates, the Bolsheviks permitted agreements respectively with the bourgeois democrats (Trudoviks, etc.) against the Liberals, and with the Liberals against the government parties during the second ballot for the election of electors in the city curiae. The five big towns (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Riga, Odessa and Kiev) had a direct system of elections with second ballot. In these towns the Social-Democrats put up independent lists of candidates, and as there was no danger of Black Hundred candidates being elected no agreements were entered into with the Liberal bourgeoisie. The resolutions of the Prague Party Conference, which established these tactics, emphasised that "election agreements must not involve the adoption of a platform, nor must the agreements bind the Social-Democratic candidates by any political obligations whatsoever, or prevent the Social-Democracy from resolutely criticising the counter-revolutionary nature of the Liberals and the half-heartedness and inconsistency of the bourgeois democrats." Hence, the agreements entered into by the Bolsheviks in the second ballots were not in the nature of a bloc of political parties.

The main difficulty the Social-Democrats had to contend with in the election campaigns was that our Party was illegal and was subjected to constant and direct attacks from the tsarist police. The election campaign had to be organised from underground, under the daily threat of prosecutions, arrests and exiles.

The Mensheviks were in a somewhat better position, both because they entered the fight with their demands cut down and adapted to the legal possibilities then in existence, and because they possessed more literary forces. The leaders of the Mensheviks – Dan, Potresov, etc. – lived legally in St. Petersburg, and openly contributed to the Press, while the whole of the Bolshevik leadership was either in exile, in prison or in emigration abroad. Still, it must be said that during the elections to the Fourth Duma, the Bolsheviks possessed a powerful weapon which they had not possessed in the previous campaigns. This weapon was provided by the paper Pravda, which began to be published a few months before the elections.

The role played by Pravda during the elections was enormous. The paper, acting as the mouthpiece of the advanced, revolutionary and class-conscious masses of the workers, at the same time fought against the Liquidators, against the influence of the Liberal bourgeoisie, and the amorphous "non-party" attitude which is so harmful to the labour movement.

Beginning with June 1912, the pages of Pravda were filled with articles, notes, correspondence, etc., bearing on the approaching elections. Pravda also conducted a great campaign against the absenteeism of the city democratic electors, calling upon them to safeguard their rights and to perform all the formalities required. Every issue of the paper reminded the electors to see to it that their names were not left out of the electoral lists and to make the requisite applications to the electoral commissions. Pravda called upon each of its readers to secure not less than three voters from among his comrades at the bench or his neighbours in the house where he lived.

Still greater was the role played by Pravda in the preparation for the elections in the workers' curiae. Whereas in the elections in the city curiae importance attached to election meetings, which, of course, were subject to strong police surveillance, the elections in the workers' curiae had no electoral weapon. The law prohibited any workers' election meetings. Under such conditions the agitation of Pravda acquired especially great importance.

Chapter II

The Elections in St. Petersburg

The Election Campaign in St. Petersburg – The Elections – The Electoral Congress – The Annulment of the Elections in the Biggest Factories and Mills – Strike and Demonstration against the Annulment of the Elections – The Second Elections – The Acceptance of the Bolshevik Instructions – Election of Deputies

The election of delegates from factories and mills was to take place in the early autumn of 1912; but during the summer months preparation and agitation were already being conducted among the workers of St. Petersburg.

The Central Committee attached exceptional importance to the elections in St. Petersburg and therefore instructed the St. Petersburg organisation to extend its work as widely as possible and to mobilise all the party forces for the election campaign. The St. Petersburg Committee set up a commission to superintend the elections, and the city wards were allocated among its members.

The Bolshevik headquarters for the campaign were the editorial offices of Pravda, which became the scene of hard and continuous work. On these premises, meetings were held with the representatives of the districts and of the individual factories and mills. Simultaneously illegal election meetings were organised in the city districts.

Owing to the fact that incessant watch was kept by the police on every "suspicious" worker, we had to resort to all sorts of subterfuges in order to gather together even in small groups. Usually, in order to avoid the attentions of the police, small meetings of not more than ten to twenty people were called. Summer helped us. Under the guise of picnic-parties, groups of workers went to the suburbs, mostly into the forest beyond the Okhta. The forest was the best refuge from police spies, who would not venture beyond the outskirts, for it was easy to escape from them there, and they were afraid of being attacked in some out-of-the-way spot.

At the meetings vehement arguments arose with the Liquidators. Our Party called on the workers to enter the elections on the basic unabridged demands and to elect Bolsheviks only as delegates. The Liquidators talked continually about "unity," the necessity of a united front, the necessity of abandoning factional disputes and, of course, of electing their candidates.

At some places the Socialist-Revolutionaries appeared, and insisted on the boycott of the elections, but their proposals met with no success among the workers. The chief arguments at all the meetings took place between the Liquidators and the Bolsheviks.

Towards the end of summer, the "forest" meetings started to discuss candidates. To ensure the success of the election campaign, agitation in favour of the prospective candidate should have been immediately commenced among all the workers at the factory or mill concerned. This, however, was impossible; the prospective candidate would certainly have been arrested the moment his name became widely known. The delegate was not safe even after the elections, but a prospective delegate was foredoomed to be trapped by the police. Therefore the names of the prospective candidates were kept secret, and the workers were only informed of them at the last moment before the elections.

Which political parties were presenting candidates at the elections? The Black Hundreds with their "Union of the Russian People," "Union of the Archangel Michael," and similar organisations were afraid even to show their faces at the factories and mills. The parties of the Liberal bourgeoisie also had no chance among the workers. Although the Cadets professed to defend the interests of the workers, the latter understood perfectly well the sort of protection they could expect from the bourgeois parties, led by the bitterest enemies of the proletariat – the industrialists and the merchants.

Although they did not venture to agitate for their own candidates, the Cadets could not withstand the temptation to attempt to hamper the campaign of the Social-Democrats. A few days before the elections they spread rumours that the Social-Democrats were boycotting the Duma. This was an old lie which had been used by the Cadets during previous election campaigns.

On the one hand the parties of the Right and the Liberals were out of the running, and on the other the Duma was boycotted by the Socialist-Revolutionaries; in fact, only the Social-Democratic Party took the field in the fight in the workers' electoral college (curia). The struggle was conducted almost exclusively between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. But at the same time it was possible that some unexpected candidates might be elected as independents, and might subsequently play a part in the selection of electors. Such non-party people usually argued against party candidates, that "one should not be led by the reins of any party," that "it is necessary to elect honest people known to the workers."

The Bolsheviks persistently attacked this position, explained its harmfulness to the working class and pointed out that non-party people were men without any firm convictions or principles, who might easily wander in the wrong direction. The working class can be genuinely represented only by members of a party which possesses a platform and a programme of its own, and which is controlling its representatives.

The nearer the date of the elections drew, the more intense became the electoral struggle. The precise date of the elections was not known beforehand. This was one of the tricks of the government, which, by fixing the election date suddenly, attempted to take the workers unawares and to decrease the number of voters.

In St. Petersburg, the election of delegates to the workers' electoral college was fixed for Sunday, September 16. Yet the workers only learned of this on Friday, September 14, and at some factories even as late as Saturday. At the Semyanikovsky works the announcement of the elections was posted up during a three days' holiday, i.e., at a time when there were no workers about.

By the date of the elections both the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks had mobilised all their forces. According to the law, the factory administration had to provide premises for the election meeting, but even this legal requirement was not always complied with. At one of the biggest works in St. Petersburg, the Obukhov works, the election could not take place because at the time appointed all the premises were closed. At the Izhorsky works, although an election hall was provided, entrance to it was only allowed for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes the door was closed and bolted and the workers who arrived later were prevented from voting. Siemens and Halske, the International Sleeping Car Company, and many other undertakings, especially those outside the city boundaries, acted in an even simpler fashion. The workers of these factories were not entered by the management on the official lists of voters. When the workers learned this and lodged protests with the electoral commission, they were told that it was too late and that the commission could do nothing to restore their rights.

A number of measures were also adopted to ensure that the election meetings proceeded as desired by the authorities. In some places the police arrested the prospective delegates and the most active revolutionary workers. Legally, outsiders, including the works management and the police, had no right to be present at the meetings, but the strong police patrols posted near the works bore witness in the most convincing fashion to the pressure exercised by the police. In order to provide a reason for the annulment of the elections, the management of some works did not present the lists of workers who were qualified to vote in virtue of their period of employment. At the Putilov works the management started to divide the shops into separate groups at the very moment of the elections, declaring that the repair-shop workers, the carpenters, the painters, etc., had to vote separately.

These few instances – and we could quote many more – show the conditions under which the election of delegates took place at St. Petersburg. The factory administration everywhere actively assisted the government in curtailing the electoral rights of the workers. But all these methods proved futile. Apart from the fact that not a single candidate of the Right was successful, nearly everywhere the workers passed resolutions on the most burning questions agitating the masses at that time: protesting against the non-admission of trade union delegates to the congress of factory inspectors, demanding the immediate convocation of a congress for the election of the social insurance council, dealing with general political questions, etc. Thus the course of the election of the workers' delegates showed that the whole of the St. Petersburg proletariat had taken up a thoroughly revolutionary position.

The election in the car-repair shops of the Nikolaievsky Railway,* where I was working, took place in a similar fashion to those at other St. Petersburg factories. Our works, where 3,000 men were employed, was known of old as one distinguished by its revolutionary temper. The election meeting was held in the "Yama" (the Hole), one of the workshops big enough to hold some 10,000 people. During the 1905 revolution and subsequently, huge meetings, embracing the whole district, were held on these historic premises. At the election meeting, after a general report on the elections, a discussion followed on the tasks of the election campaign, on the State Duma, on the participation of the workers in the election, etc.

* The railway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg (now Leningrad), now called the "October Railway." – Ed.

Several months previously, in the middle of the summer, I had learned that the Party organisation had nominated me as a candidate. As the elections drew nearer, the question of candidates began to be hotly debated in the departments and the workshops. All the workers in the factory knew me by my former work, and my candidature therefore met with general support and it was clear that I should be elected by an overwhelming majority. The second candidate proposed by the Bolsheviks was Comrade Melnikov. In addition candidates nominated by the Mensheviks and independent candidates were put forward.

The candidatures were vehemently debated and the meeting considered the merits of each candidate individually. Apart from the political platform, the personal characteristics of each candidate were discussed, his activity, his influence at the works, his political steadfastness, etc. The voting was by secret ballot, and when the count was taken it was found that I had been elected by a large majority. Our second candidate, Comrade Melnikov, was also elected, the remaining candidates receiving only two or three votes each.

Of the eighty delegates elected to the St. Petersburg workers' electoral college, the overwhelming majority were Social-Democrats. Many of them had a revolutionary past; they had been persecuted by the police, tried in courts of law, exiled to distant regions. Some of them, however, had not made up their minds about Party differences and were vacillating between the two factions of the Party. Thus it was not clear who would be elected in the second stage of the elections (the selection of electors to the workers' electoral college) which would determine the choice of the future deputy.

Both the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks started an intensive campaign among the delegates, trying to win over the doubtful ones. The campaign for electors was even more impetuous than that for the delegates. Here, too, the Duma election law had placed a number of obstacles in our path. No meetings of the delegates were allowed and all attempts to arrange such meetings under some pretext or other were prevented by the police, who watched carefully to ensure that the workers' delegates should not communicate with one another.

For this reason press campaigns played an enormous part in the second stage of the elections. Pravda and Luch (The Ray)* agitated for their respective factions, calling on the delegates to vote for their candidates. Both factions mobilised the entire arsenal of their arguments, and the polemics between these two newspapers were even more bitter than during the election of the delegates.

* Luch represented the views of the Mensheviks and Liquidators. – Ed.

The principal argument of the Menshevik-Liquidators against the Bolsheviks was the accusation that the latter were breaking the unity of the working class. By this talk of unity the Mensheviks attempted to side-track the discussion of political programmes, for they knew beforehand that they would be beaten on that issue. Whilst evading this discussion in every possible way, they continually cried out for "agreement," "unity" and "personal candidates."

"The only way out of the difficult situation," wrote Luch, "is through an agreement between the Social-Democratic factions, or failing that, between the Social-Democratic delegates, for the purpose of united action at the congress of delegates and of electing from the Social-Democratic delegates – irrespective of their tendencies – the most steadfast electors to be chosen on account of their personal qualities."

This was indeed the only way out for the Mensheviks, because under the flag of "the most steadfast, to be chosen on account of their personal qualities," it was possible to elect a man with any political platform, consequently also a Menshevik, even if the Mensheviks were not in a majority among the representatives.

Pravda, exposing the Mensheviks, wrote that there was no occasion to be afraid of a struggle within the working class, that such a struggle would not destroy unity but, on the contrary, would strengthen it in the future.

This struggle is inevitable, since the workers have to decide which tactics the Social-Democratic fraction in the Duma should adopt. This struggle – we specially stress this – will not endanger in the slightest the unity of the working class, for the question now is whether this or that delegate be chosen as elector. The workers must and will act unitedly, but precisely for the sake of this unity it is necessary that the workers' deputy should represent the views of the majority and not those of the minority.

The Bolsheviks proposed that the vote should be taken after both political platforms had been discussed at the meeting. This was precisely what the Mensheviks did not want; they were afraid that the discussion would turn out unfavourably for them.

The Bolsheviks considered the contest over the choice of electors as a conflict between political platforms determining the tactics of the future Social-Democratic fraction in the State Duma, whereas the Mensheviks tried to win this fight by advancing the principle of personal election, i.e., by stressing the personal qualities of individual candidates.

Disputes between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks grew more bitter, not only among the leaders but also among the rank and file, at factories and works and among the delegates themselves.

A week before the selection of electors, an illegal meeting of delegates took place in the forest two or three versts from Porokhovye station. The meeting was attended by about thirty delegates and a few representatives from the Bolshevik St. Petersburg Committee and the Organisation Commission of the Mensheviks. Since many of the prominent members of the Party were present, the issues were presented in their most acute form. The battle was fought out in the open. The Bolsheviks argued that it was necessary to choose as electors comrades who would carry out the programme of the Party and submit to Party directions; the Liquidators insisted on their point, that in order to avoid a split it was necessary to elect individuals irrespective of their platform.

Comrade Lashevich spoke on behalf of the Bolshevik St. Petersburg Committee. With his usual impetuousness he declared: "We shall unmask you, we shall show the workers what lies behind your hypocritical phrases about unity."

After five hours of stormy arguments our resolution secured an absolute majority, having obtained two-thirds of the votes of the delegates present. But to this result the Liquidators refused to submit.

All efforts to reach an agreement failed, each side categorically rejecting the various proposals advanced by the other. While these negotiations to find a common line of action were proceeding, individual delegates attempted the same task and each faction of the Party tried to win their support.

On the day before the electoral college was to assemble, the Menshevik delegates threatened a split if their proposals were not accepted. Luch wrote that if no agreement were reached on the question of the choice of electors, the Mensheviks would also nominate their own candidates in the second electoral city curiae of St. Petersburg where the two sections of the Party had put up a joint list of candidates. Of course their threat did not affect our decision in the slightest degree.

The workers' electoral college met on October 5. Throughout the election the authorities continued to adopt methods of obstruction. The date of the meeting was only announced on the evening before, i.e., a few hours before the delegates were to assemble; this haste was intended to disrupt the electoral college. In addition, a new surprise had been prepared. At the same time as this announcement was made, the delegates from a number of factories and mills were "disqualified." On October 4, the day before the electoral college was to assemble, the workers of twenty-one factories and mills were notified that the elections of their representatives had been declared invalid. Finally, at the assembly of the electoral college itself, the governor "disqualified" the delegates of another eight undertakings in the Schliesselburg; district. Some of the largest factories had their delegates disqualified, such as the Putilov works, which had elected nine delegates, and the Nevsky shipbuilding yard, which had sent three.

The Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks nominated their own candidates for the six electors to be chosen by the electoral college. Although our list had been prepared, it was not published before the election day in order to avoid exposing the candidates to the risk of arrest.

The electoral college, which met in the St. Petersburg City Duma building, was scheduled to open at noon, but the majority of the delegates had arrived an hour before time. They became acquainted with one another and tried to discover who would support the Bolsheviks and who the Mensheviks.

The official chairman of the college, appointed by the government, was Demkin, the vice-mayor of St. Petersburg. He was one of the worst of the Black Hundreds, and, zealously performing his police duties, he tried to hamper as much as possible the already restricted elections. In the preliminary proceedings only one hour was allowed for the discussion of the lists of candidates.

Of the fifty delegates, five or six were non-party and the rest Social-Democrats, either Bolsheviks or Mensheviks. This gathering, restricted exclusively to the delegates, was the final stage of the struggle between the two factions. Now the choice had to be made, electors had to be chosen. The discussion was exceptionally violent; each group presented its own list of candidates and its own programme. There was no longer any question of compromise. Speeches were devoted to winning the support of those delegates who, for some reason or other, had not yet decided how to vote.

Despite the opposition of the Mensheviks, we succeeded in raising the question of the election programme. A Menshevik representative spoke first, but when a Bolshevik commenced to reply, Demkin came into the hall, broke into the discussion, and ordered us to proceed with the ballot.

In the hall a ballot-box was provided for each delegate with his name pasted on it. The voting was by secret ballot and it took more than an hour for the papers to be sorted and the election procedure to be concluded. All those elected were Social- Democrats, four of them from the list published by the Pravda.

The atmosphere in which the elections were held and the hasty "disqualification" of the delegates from half of the factories and mills aroused the indignation of the St. Petersburg workers. The government had gone too far. The workers answered with a powerful movement of protest.

The Putilov factory was the first to act. On the day of the elections, October 5, instead of returning to their benches after dinner, the workers assembled in the workshops and declared a strike. The whole factory came out – nearly 14,000 workers. At 3 p.m. several thousand workers left the factory and marched toward the Narvsky gate singing revolutionary songs, but they were dispersed by the police. The movement spread to the Nevsky shipyards, where 6,500 workers organised a meeting and a political demonstration. They were joined by the workers of the Pale and Maxwell mills, the Alexeyev joinery works, etc. On the following day the workers of the Erickson, Lessner, Heisler, Vulcan, Duflon, Phoenix, Cheshire, Lebedev, and other factories struck.

The strike quickly spread all over St. Petersburg. The strike was not restricted to those factories at which the election of delegates had been annulled, but many others were also involved. Meetings and demonstrations were organised. Several factories linked their protests against the persecution of trade unions with those against the nullification of the elections. The strike was completely political; no economic demands whatever were formulated. Within ten days more than 70,000 were involved in the movement. The workers demonstrated very clearly that they would not give up their right to vote and that they realised both what the elections meant and what the work of the future workers' deputies in the Duma would be.

The strike movement continued to grow until the government was convinced that it could not deprive the workers of their right to vote and was forced to announce that new primary elections would be held in the works affected. Many factories and mills which had not participated before in the election of delegates were included in the new list. In consequence the elections of electors had to be annulled and new elections held after additional delegates had been elected. This was a great victory for the working class and particularly for the St. Petersburg proletariat, which had shown such revolutionary class-consciousness.

The supplementary elections of delegates from more than twenty undertakings were fixed for Sunday, October 14. Pravda and our Party organisation carried on as strong a propaganda campaign as they had during the first elections. The movement of protest against the workers being deprived of their electoral rights continued while the elections were going on, and the meetings at the factories and mills revealed a growth of revolutionary sentiment and a heightened interest in the election campaign.

For the most part, the same candidates were nominated in the "disqualified" undertakings, but this time they were given instructions which had been worked out by the Bolsheviks. These instructions were adopted almost everywhere and, characteristically enough, even at some factories where Mensheviks had been elected. At the Semyanninkovsky factory, where one Bolshevik and two Mensheviks had been successful, the Mensheviks tried to add an amendment containing a Menshevik slogan on the right of association. This amendment was rejected by an overwhelming majority and the draft of our instructions adopted without modification.

The Bolshevik instructions, which had been signed by thousands of workers, were also adopted at those factories and mills where the first election of delegates was allowed to stand.

As soon as the supplementary delegates had been elected, a date was fixed for the meeting of the electoral college at which six electors had again to be chosen for the workers' electoral college. But this time there was no opportunity before the college met to seek agreement on a joint list of candidates. The discussions between the two factions were as violent as before; both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks holding to their former positions and refusing to make any compromise.

The second electoral college assembled on October 17, attended by almost twice as many delegates as had been present at the first; in all there were more than eighty. The strikes and protest meetings had obviously had some influence on Demkin, the official chairman of the electoral college. This time the discussion lasted for more than four hours. In the discussion of the election platform, all the revolutionary tasks with which the working class was faced were thrashed out, and the arguments between the Bolsheviks and the Liquidators developed with renewed vigour.

The delegates decided to use this occasion to make a political demonstration and proposed a number of resolutions on current political questions. Resolutions were passed, protesting against the Balkan war (which was then in progress); binding the future deputy to raise the question of retrying the case of the members of the Second Duma who had been exiled; and protesting against the sentences on the Black Sea sailors. The delegates also issued an appeal calling on the voters of the second electoral city-curiae to support the candidates of the Social-Democratic party, as the "only steadfast, revolutionary, and fearless defenders of the people's interests; as the only fighters against political oppression and for complete freedom and rights of all nationalities," At the end of the meeting, the St. Petersburg workers' instructions to their delegates, as proposed by the Bolsheviks, were unanimously adopted. These instructions were drafted by the Central Committee of our Party* and, as I have already said, were adopted at the meetings held to elect the delegates. The instructions emphasised the importance of using the Duma tribunal for revolutionary propaganda and demanded that both the St. Petersburg deputy and the whole Social-Democratic fraction should fight for the “unabridged” demands of the working class.

* Actually they were drafted by Com. Stalin. – Ed.

The following is the full text of the instructions as passed by the delegates without any additions and amendments:

The demands of the Russian people advanced by the movement of 1905 remain unrealised.

The growth of reaction and the "renovation of the regime" have not only not satisfied these demands, but, on the contrary, have made them still more pressing.

Not only are the workers deprived of the right to strike – there is no guarantee that they will not be discharged for doing so; not only have they no right to organise unions and meetings – there is no guarantee that they will not be arrested for doing so; they have not even the right to elect to the Duma, for they will be "disqualified" or exiled if they do, as the workers from the Putilov works and the Nevsky shipyards were "disqualified" a few days ago.

All this is quite apart from the starving tens of millions of peasants, who are left at the mercy of the landlords and the rural police chiefs.

All this points to the necessity of realising the demands of 1905. The state of economic life in Russia, the signs already appearing of the approaching industrial crisis and the growing pauperisation of broad strata of the peasantry make the necessity of realising the objects of 1905 more urgent than ever.

We think, therefore, that Russia is on the eve of mass movements, perhaps more profound than those of 1905. This is testified by the Lena events, by the strikes in protest against the "disqualifications," etc.

As was the case in 1905, the Russian proletariat, the most advanced class of Russian society, will again act as the vanguard of the movement.

The only allies it can have are the long-suffering peasantry, who are vitally interested in the emancipation of Russia from feudalism.

A fight on two fronts – against the feudal order and the Liberal bourgeoisie which is seeking a union with the old powers – such is the form the next actions of the people must assume.

But in order that the working class may honourably discharge its role as the leader of the movement of the people, it must be armed with the consciousness of its interests and with a greater degree of organisation.

The Duma tribune is, under the present conditions, one of the best means for enlightening and organising the broad masses of the proletariat.

It is for this very purpose that we are sending our deputy into the Duma, and we charge him and the whole Social-Democratic fraction of the Fourth Duma to make widely known our demands from the Duma tribune, and not to play at legislation in the State Duma.

We call upon the Social-Democratic fraction of the Fourth Duma, and our deputy in particular, to hold aloft the banner of the working class in the hostile camp of the Black Duma.

We want to hear the voices of the members of the Social-Democratic fraction ring out loudly from the Duma tribune proclaiming the final goal of the proletariat, proclaiming the full and uncurtailed demands of 1905, proclaiming the Russian working class as the leader of the popular movement and denouncing the Liberal bourgeoisie as the betrayer of the "people's freedom."*

* An allusion to the name of the party of the Cadets (Constitutional Democrats) which called itself also the "Party of the People's Freedom." – Ed.

We call upon the Social-Democratic fraction of the Fourth Duma, in its work on the basis of the above slogans, to act in unity and with its ranks closed.

Let it gather its strength from constant contact with the broad masses.

Let it march shoulder to shoulder with the political organisation of the working class of Russia.

In spite of the fact that the Bolshevik instructions were adopted unanimously, two independent lists of candidates – Bolsheviks and Mensheviks – were presented at the election. As in the previous electoral college, voting was by secret ballot. Only five candidates received an absolute majority, Kostyukov and myself for the Bolsheviks, and Gudkov, Petrov, and Sudakov for the Mensheviks. Another ballot was taken on the following day and two Bolsheviks, Ignatyev and Zaitstev, topped the poll. Lots were drawn and Ignatyev was chosen elector.

The second stage of the elections thus resulted in equal representation for the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, each controlling three of the electors. The Party had demanded that all the electors, with the exception of the candidate for deputy endorsed by the Party, should withdraw and submit to the decision of the majority.

Comrade Stalin, summing up the results of the elections in Pravda, emphasised the fact that the endorsement of the Bolshevik instructions clearly showed who should be elected to the Duma:

No matter how the Liquidators try to obscure the issue, the will of the delegates was quite clear on the most important point, the question of the instructions. By an overwhelming majority the delegates adopted the instructions of Pravda to the deputy.... It is obvious that the instructions differ radically from the Liquidationist platform and that in fact they are completely anti-Liquidationist. The question is: if the Liquidators dare to nominate their own candidate for deputy, what about the instructions which, according to the delegates' decision, are binding on the deputy?

The Liquidators, however, attached little importance to the clearly expressed will of the delegates. They intended to nominate their own candidate regardless of results and were ready to go to any lengths to achieve his election.

The short interval between the selection of electors and the election of the deputy was spent in continual negotiations between the party committees and the electors. We showed that only a Bolshevik should be elected to the Duma since everything pointed to the fact that the majority of the workers supported the Bolsheviks. The preliminary stages of the elections had gone in our favour. In the first electoral college, four of the electors chosen were from our list, while of the other two only one was definitely a Liquidator, as the other had gone over to the Mensheviks after the elections. The second college was also Bolshevik in sympathy as the endorsement of the instructions showed. We insisted that an accidental distribution of votes should not be made the basis for misrepresenting the will of the majority of the St. Petersburg workers.

None of our arguments had the slightest effect on the Liquidators; and they even rejected the suggestion, made by some Bolsheviks, that unity could be achieved by deciding the question by drawing lots. Neither side made any concessions and both went to the provincial electoral college determined to send their own candidate to the Duma.

The college met on October 20. Four deputies were to be elected to represent the St. Petersburg Gubernia: one for the peasants, two for the landlords and houseowners, and the fourth for the workers. The college was composed of sixty-six electors representing these divisions. The Progressives and the Octobrists were in the majority and had concluded an alliance against the Rights and the Nationalists.

Prince Saltykov, the chairman appointed by the government, read the rules and regulations governing the election proceedings, verified the list of electors and proposed that the election of deputies be commenced. First, a deputy was elected from the peasants' electors, of whom four were Progressives and one Right. We agreed to vote for the Progressive candidate on condition that, if elected, he would vote with the Social-Democratic fraction on bills concerning the workers. The candidate they nominated was elected. A Progressive was also successful for the houseowners, while an Octobrist was chosen to represent the landlords.

Then the college proceeded with the election of a deputy to represent the workers. All the workers' electors, both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, went to the ballot. When the votes were counted, I was declared elected, having received thirty-four votes against twenty-nine. The Liquidators received considerably less votes.

Enraged by their failure, the Liquidators at once opened a slanderous campaign about the way the elections had been conducted, trying in this way to explain away their defeat.

Chapter III

The Social-Democratic Fraction of the Fourth State Duma

After the Elections – Visits and Letters from Workers –The Composition of the Social-Democratic Fraction – Jagello, the Deputy from Warsaw – The Bolshevik "Six."

The State Duma opened a month after the elections in St. Petersburg. This month was spent in preparations for the formation of the Social-Democratic fraction, and in other preliminary work connected with the activity of our fraction.

Activity within the Duma was only a small part of the tasks which confronted the workers' deputies, the predominant part of their work taking place outside of the Duma. Immediately the elections were over, I became absorbed in this and was faced with many new Party and trade union duties, work for Pravda, etc.

As it had been decided that I should visit the editorial offices every day, I was in close touch with Pravda. At that time Pravda was under the direction of Comrade Stalin, who was living “illegally,” and who had also been charged with the conduct of the recent election campaign and with the preparations for the organisation of the Duma fraction.

When I met Stalin, he raised the question of the necessity of arranging, even before the Duma opened, a conference between the Central Committee and the workers' deputies. Such a conference would, of course, have to be held abroad.

At the conference, a plan of action for the Bolshevik section of the Duma fraction was to be worked out and a number of questions connected with our future activity discussed. I entirely endorsed Stalin's proposal, being of the opinion that it was necessary for the workers' deputies to establish close contact with the Central Committee from the outset. We did not succeed, however, in convoking the conference before the opening of the Duma. It was decided to postpone it until the first Duma recess, when it would be possible to prepare for it in a more systematic manner.

I met Comrade Stalin frequently both at the editorial offices and elsewhere. Often Stalin would come to my apartment in disguise in order to avoid police spies. During this initial period, Comrade Stalin's advice was of great help to me and to the other workers' deputies.

During my daily visits to the Pravda offices, I met the representatives of labour organisations and became acquainted with the moods of the workers. Workers came there from all the city districts and related what had taken place at factories and works, and how the legal and the illegal organisations were functioning. Conversations and meetings with the representatives of the revolutionary workers supplied me with a vast amount of material for my future activity in the Duma.

The workers kept in close touch with their deputies, whom they regarded as the genuine representatives of their interests. As soon as the results of the elections were published in the press, workers of various factories began to apply to me with the most diverse requests and questions. In order to meet delegates from the factories and, at the same time, to be nearer the Pravda office, it was necessary for me to live in the centre of the city. After having taken my discharge from the works, I hired an apartment in Shpalernaya Street in the neighbourhood of the State Duma and moved there from my former home beyond Nevskaya Zastava.

The police spies, who had not been inattentive to me even when I was employed at the works, became more assiduous v/hen I was elected delegate; after my being chosen as an elector their numbers increased still further, and now they positively besieged my apartment, watching my every step and following all my visitors.

Every day I received a voluminous correspondence not only from St. Petersburg, but also from other cities, and many workers called to see me. In order that these consultations with the masses should continue, I published in Pravda the hours of my "reception" at home. Some of these numerous visitors called on behalf of various organisations, while others came on personal matters.

The conversations and letters touched upon absolutely every aspect of the workers' lives. I was kept informed of the work accomplished and of the persecutions incurred by the trade unions, of strikes, lock-outs, unemployment, and new cases of police oppression. I was asked to intercede on behalf of those arrested, and received many letters from exiles, who requested me to organise financial and other material relief for them. Among those who came on personal matters, some even asked if I could help to find work for them. Very often visitors called in order to talk about the Duma and its work, to express their wishes and to give advice.

It was necessary to answer all the letters promptly and to deal with the requests. In a number of cases I had to initiate petitions and conduct negotiations with various government institutions. All this took a lot of time and my day was fully occupied even before the Duma opened.

From telegrams and local information we gradually obtained a picture of the election results throughout Russia, and very soon the approximate composition of the Social-Democratic fraction in the future Duma became known. Not all the information, however, was sufficiently precise or reliable. Thus, it was not clear who Mankov, the deputy from Irkutsk, was. The news of the election of a Social-Democratic deputy for the Maritime district in Siberia proved to be erroneous; later on it transpired that the deputy was not a Social-Democrat, but a Trudovik. In general, the setting of the elections was such that no absolute reliance could be placed on the communications of the official telegraphic agency. Very often the telegrams simply stated that a "Left" had been elected, but it was unknown to which Party he belonged.

We only knew which deputies had actually been elected after they had come to St. Petersburg. Being a St. Petersburg deputy, I published an announcement in Pravda inviting all Social- Democratic deputies arriving in St. Petersburg to a discussion on the organisation of a fraction. I invited them to obtain my address from the editorial office of the newspaper. This announcement was made for the purpose of putting the deputies in touch with Pravda immediately, and thus bringing them under the influence of the Bolshevik organ. Thus the first meeting-place of the Social-Democratic deputies in St. Petersburg was the editorial office of Pravda; it was only after they had been there that they went to the State Duma. The Mensheviks, Chkheidze and Skobelev, also visited Pravda and tried to establish "friendly" relations with the Bolsheviks.

After the majority of the Social-Democratic deputies had arrived in St. Petersburg, conferences were held to exchange information concerning the instructions and opinions of the various regions from which they came. At first we held our meetings in the Taurida Palace, but subsequently at our own premises. The fraction rented an apartment of four or five rooms at 39 Rozhdestvenskaya. These headquarters were immediately surrounded by the police, who kept continuous watch on the entrance and windows.

As in the Second and Third Dumas, the Social-Democratic fraction in the Fourth Duma began as a united friction, comprising both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. But unlike the preceding cases, a sharp struggle broke out at once between the two groups. The Third Duma had opened in a period of violent reaction and decline in the revolutionary struggle; the elections to the Fourth Duma, on the other hand, had taken place when the labour movement was on the up-grade. The working class, taking up the revolutionary fight again, was rapidly liberating itself from Liquidationist tendencies. At the elections in the workers' colleges the struggle between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks had flared up with exceptional passion and it was natural that it should be continued in the Social-Democratic fraction. Accordingly from the first meeting a state of intense hostility prevailed between the Bolshevik and Menshevik sections of the fraction.

The first meeting of the fraction was held a short time before the opening of the Duma. Taking advantage of their majority in the fraction the Mensheviks attempted to secure most of the seats in the presidium of the fraction, but we forced them to yield almost half the seats to the Bolshevik section. Chkheidze, a Menshevik, was elected chairman, Malinovsky, a Bolshevik, vice- chairman, and Tulyakov, another Menshevik, treasurer. The two other members of the presidium were the Bolshevik, Petrovsky, and the Menshevik, Skobelev.

There were fourteen deputies in the Social-Democratic fraction, six being Bolsheviks and seven Mensheviks. The last member, the Warsaw deputy, Jagello, supported the Mensheviks. The majority for the Mensheviks, although an insignificant one, seemed at first sight to entitle them to claim that they had the support of the majority of the working class. This claim, however, was far from true. Closer examination of the election results shows that the Bolsheviks were really the leaders of the workers and that the Bolshevik deputies were the only genuine representatives of the working class in the State Duma.

All the elections in the six workers' colleges of the largest industrial areas had resulted in victories for the Bolsheviks. The Menshevik deputies, on the contrary, were elected from non-working-class centres, chiefly the border provinces, where the majority of the population was petit bourgeois. The distribution of workers in the areas concerned shows for whom the working class voted. In the six provinces with workers' electoral colleges there were 1,008,000 workers (in factories and mines), whereas in the eight provinces which returned Mensheviks there were 214,000 workers, or if we include the Baku province, where the workers were disfranchised, 246,000 workers. From these figures it is obvious that, in fact, the Bolsheviks represented five times as many workers as the Mensheviks. Only an electoral system specially designed to reduce the representation of the working class could bring about such a correlation of forces within the Social-Democratic fraction.

The preponderating influence which the Bolsheviks enjoyed among the masses can also be proved by comparing the numbers of deputies elected by the workers' electoral colleges to the previous State Dumas. In the Second Duma, twelve Mensheviks and eleven Bolsheviks were elected by the workers' colleges; in the Third there was an equal number of each; while in the Fourth Duma, only six deputies were elected, but they were all Bolsheviks. At the time of the Second Duma, which coincided with the London Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, the majority of the Party was definitely Bolshevik; and in the Fourth Duma there could be no doubt that the Bolsheviks had the support of at least three-fourths of the revolutionary workers.

The fact that the composition of the Social-Democratic fraction did not correspond to the Party composition was not accidental. The opportunist character of parliamentary labour parties is common to all bourgeois countries. This is partly due to the electoral system which, under any bourgeois regime, is directed toward limiting the rights of the most progressive, revolutionary workers, and partly to the greater adaptability to and interest in parliamentary activity displayed by the non-proletarian elements of socialist parties – the petty bourgeoisie, the office employees, and above all the intelligentsia.

Whereas the Bolshevik wing of the fraction consisted only of workers who came to the Duma straight from factories and workshops, three of the Menshevik seven were intellectuals; Chkheidze was a journalist, Skobelev an engineer, Chkhenkeli a lawyer. These three were elected in the Caucasus, which had also sent Mensheviks to the previous Dumas, A decisive factor in this Menshevik stability in the Caucasus was the local opposition to the policy of Russification pursued by the tsarist government. The Caucasian elections, in particular, show the extent to which the Mensheviks were dependent on the votes of the petty bourgeoisie. The four Menshevik deputies who were workers were also elected from the border provinces: Buryanov from the Taurida Gubernia (Crimea), Tulyakov from the Don region, Khaustov from the Ufa Gubernia, and Mankov from the Irkutsk Gubernia. The support of voters, politically indifferent, but who upheld a nationalist movement against the imperialist oppression of the government, contributed greatly to the success of these deputies.

Mankov's election was actually achieved against the will of the working-class voters. At the Irkutsk provincial electoral meeting, only twelve out of the twenty electors took part. The remaining eight were "disqualified," and no new elections were held to replace them. This electoral trick prevented the Irkutsk workers from electing their candidate and unexpectedly Mankov was successful, although his Liquidationist views had been rejected by the workers. Simultaneously with the arrival of Mankov in St. Petersburg, the fraction received a protest from the Irkutsk workers against his election. At one time there was a question of Mankov's resignation, and an annulment of the Irkutsk elections was demanded. At first even the Mensheviks wavered on the question whether Mankov, with such "testimonials," should be admitted into the Social-Democratic fraction.

The election of the Warsaw deputy, Jagello, who supported the Mensheviks, was still more irregular. Jagello was a member of the Polish Socialist Party in which petty bourgeois, nationalist tendencies were predominant. The Bund* made an election alliance with this Party against the Social-Democrats. This fact alone revealed the Bund as a secessionist organisation which had transgressed the decisions and directions of the Party, since the Party had categorically refused to admit the Polish Socialist Party into its ranks. The Social-Democrats obtained a majority at the elections, and of the three workers' electors, two, Bronovski and Zalevski, were Social-Democrats. Jagello, the candidate of the bloc, was the third, and could only be considered as the candidate of a minority of the workers. The representatives of the Jewish bourgeoisie, since they did not venture to put up a candidate of their own, voted for this representative of the minority to ensure that a Polish nationalist with anti-Semitic tendencies should not be elected. Thus Jagello was elected by a bloc, consisting of the Polish Socialist Party, the Bund, and the Jewish bourgeoisie, directed against the majority of the Warsaw workers who had supported the Polish Social-Democratic Party.

* The Jewish Social-Democratic League (Menshevik) – Ed.

In spite of the fact that Jagello declared that he would accept all the decisions of the Social-Democratic fraction, we strongly objected to his being admitted. The Bolsheviks did not wish to appear to sanction the secessionist step taken by the Bund. At most we were willing to accept him as an affiliated member of the fraction just as the Lithuanian Social-Democrats, who at that time were not members of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, had been accepted in the Second Duma.

The Mensheviks, however, received Jagello as an ally who could give them an extra vote in their struggle against the Bolshevik wing of the fraction. They wanted to include him unreservedly as a member of the fraction with the same rights as the other deputies. We protested resolutely against such an utter contempt of Party decisions, and, after a long and stubborn struggle, we forced the Mensheviks to give way. This was one of the first issues on which the two factions fought. Jagello was admitted into the Social-Democratic fraction as a member with limited rights. He exercised a vote on questions of Duma activity and had the right to advise, but not to vote, on questions of the internal life of the Party. Comrade Stalin referred as follows to this decision in an article in Pravda:

The decision of the Social-Democratic fraction is an attempt to discover something in the nature of a compromise. Whether the fraction has found the way to peace remains to be seen. In any case it is obvious that the Bund did not obtain a sanction for its secessionist step, though it tried hard to get it.

Subsequent development showed that Stalin's sceptical view on the possibility of a reconciliation between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in the fraction was fully justified. The Bolshevik worker deputies were determined to carry out the will of the workers who had sent them to the Duma and they waged a constant struggle against the Liquidators.

All our Bolshevik "six" were workers who came to the State Duma from the very heart of the working class. Each of us from early childhood had experienced personally all the "charms" of the capitalist regime. For all of us the oppression of the tsarist government and the ruthless exploitation of the working classes by the bourgeoisie and its henchmen were far from being abstract theories – we had experienced them ourselves.

The working class, after enormous difficulties, after many losses and cruel defeats, had obtained the right to send its representatives to the State Duma. By our struggle against the existing regime conducted in the very jaws of the enemy, we had to justify the enormous losses suffered by the Russian workers. The consciousness of this great and responsible task still further increased the revolutionary energy and strengthened the will of the workers' deputies, when they were fighting both the open enemies of the proletariat and those hidden enemies who attempted to hold back the revolutionary movement.

Four metal workers and two textile workers formed the Bolshevik "six" in the Fourth Duma. Petrovsky, Muranov, Malinovsky, and I were metal workers, Shagov and Samoylov were textile workers. The Bolshevik deputies were elected in the biggest industrial areas of Russia: G. I. Petrovsky was deputy for the Yekaterinoslav Gubernia, M. K. Muranov for Kharkov Gubernia, N. R, Shagov for the Kostroma Gubernia, F. N. Samoylov for the Vladimir Gubernia, R. V. Malinovsky for the Moscow Gubernia, and myself for St. Petersburg.

But in fact the workers' deputies did not represent only those regions which had elected them, for as soon as our election became known, we received letters, declarations, and resolutions from workers of various regions entrusting us with the representation of their interests. I quote as an example a letter which I received in the' beginning of November, 1912:

Dear Comrade, you know from the newspapers the sad result of the elections in the Kursk Gubernia. Owing to the electoral law of June 3, the Markovists, the worst enemies of the workers, were elected to the Duma. Thus the vital interests of the proletariat are left undefended. Therefore, we, a group of Kursk delegates, charge you, the chosen representative of the St. Petersburg workers, and the other members of the Social-Democratic fraction in the Fourth Duma, with the defence of the interests of our constituents and we endorse the instructions given to you by the proletariat of St. Petersburg. With fraternal greetings, The delegates of the Kursk Gubernia.

The Dvinsk workers wrote as follows:

Only Black Hundreds were elected from the Vitebsk Gubernia. Not a single representative of the working class was able to enter the Taurida Palace through the barrier erected by the law of June 3. We, the progressive workers of Dvinsk, send to the Social-Democratic fraction as a whole our warm fraternal greetings and request it to assume the defence of the interests of democracy in the Gubernia of Vitebsk.

Despite the police and the persecution to which anyone corresponding with the Bolshevik deputies was exposed, workers from all corners of Russia sent us their instructions, greetings, and promises of support.

Expressing their desire to keep in touch with the deputies, the workers at the same time invited their deputies to maintain close contact with the proletariat of St. Petersburg, which was ever the advance guard of the revolutionary movement. The following clause was included in the instructions sent to Muranov by the workers of the Kharkov locomotive sheds and by the Social-Democratic city, factory, and railway groups:

In any acute political situation the deputy is bound to consult the workers who elected him to the State Duma and also to establish the closest relations with the St. Petersburg proletariat.

Similar instructions were received by the other workers' deputies. The support of the St. Petersburg workers was of great importance to the Bolshevik deputies. When speaking from the Duma rostrum, the Bolsheviks, accusing and exposing the government, always felt sure that there, outside the walls of the Taurida Palace, they would find support among the St. Petersburg workers, who, by their strikes and demonstrations, rendered the impression made by the Duma speeches many times more effective. Workers from the other regions of Russia quickly followed this lead, but the first onslaught was always carried out by the strong, picked ranks of the St. Petersburg workers.

Pravda expressed the spirit of the St. Petersburg workers when it welcomed the beginning of our Duma work in the following terms:

The editors of Pravda welcome the Social-Democratic fraction of the Fourth Duma and wish it success in its difficult and responsible duty of steadfastly and consistently defending the interests of the proletariat and of democracy as a whole.

Pravda also published the following greeting from a group of St. Petersburg workers:

In the Fourth Duma a few benches, a small sector of the semicircle of the Duma, are occupied by deputies who really represent the people and whose hearts beat in unison with the hearts of the Russian workers and peasants. These are the workers' deputies, the Social-Democratic fraction.

All these messages assured us that we entered the Duma supported, not only by the hundreds of thousands of workers who had taken an active part in the elections, but by the whole of the Russian proletariat. This strong and intimate connection with the masses, which became stronger as time went on, was of immense assistance to us in our extremely complicated and difficult Duma work.

The difficulties of work in the Duma were mitigated in the case of the Mensheviks by the fact that they possessed more people acquainted with such tasks. The Menshevik leader Chkheidze had for five years been the chairman of the Social-Democratic fraction in the Third State Duma. During this period he had gathered considerable experience and had learned how to manoeuvre through the complex maze of Duma rules of procedure. The habit of speaking from the Duma rostrum was also important, as was too the knowledge of special methods by which one could withstand the pressure exercised by the chairman and defeat the attacks of the Black Hundred majority.

So-called experts assisted all Duma fractions in their work. They were partisans and sympathisers of the parties represented in the Duma. With their aid, the necessary material for speeches was collected, bills drafted, interpellations framed, and the texts of speeches discussed and approved. Such experts were of special importance for the Social-Democratic fraction because our Party was illegal.

The work of the Social-Democratic deputies was assisted by Party publicists and journalists as well as by those members who possessed the necessary training (lawyers and economists, etc.). They included both Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. The Mensheviks, however, were considerably more numerous because the Bolsheviks, more formidable enemies of the tsarist government, suffered much more from the persecutions of the secret police. The Mensheviks enjoyed a relatively larger degree of legal facilities and a number of their prominent members lived comparatively undisturbed and for long periods in St. Petersburg, engaged on literary and social work. Such Menshevik leaders as Dan, Potresov, and Yezhov, for example, lived legally.

Quite a different state of things prevailed among the Bolsheviks. At various periods, Comrades Stalin, Sverdlov, Kamenev, Olminsky, Molotov, Krestinsky, Krylenko, Quiring, Concordia Samoylova and other leading Party workers took part in the work of the fraction. But they appeared in St. Petersburg illegally and for short periods only, between an escape from exile and a new arrest.

Chapter IV

The Opening of the Duma

Strike on the Opening Day of the Duma – The Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks on the Strike – The First Sitting of the Fourth Duma – The Social-Democratic Fraction and the Election of the Duma Presidium – The Government Declaration – The Reply of the Social-Democrats – The "omissions" of Malinovsky

A wave of strikes accompanied the beginning of the work of the new State Duma. The working class had fully grasped the importance of the strike weapon and made extensive use of it in the struggles against the tsarist government and the bourgeoisie.

Immediately before the opening of the Duma, which had been fixed for November 15, 1912, a meeting was held in St. Petersburg to protest against the death sentences which had been passed on a number of sailors of the Black Sea fleet. A naval court martial in Sebastopol had condemned seventeen sailors to death and 106 to penal servitude for conspiring to prepare a revolt. In reply, mass strikes were organised, which quickly spread from St. Petersburg to other regions of Russia. Within a week more than 60,000 workers, i.e. about one-fourth of the St. Petersburg workers, took part in one-day strikes. In the whole of Russia about a quarter of a million men participated in this protest strike. At some of the St. Petersburg works demonstrations were organised and the workers marched through the streets carrying red flags and singing revolutionary songs.

The strike movement called forth by the naval court-martial sentence continued until the opening of the Duma and was then transformed into a political strike, timed to coincide with the first sitting of the Duma. This latter strike was declared as a protest against the law of June 3 and the reactionary Duma, and as a demonstration in support of the Social-Democratic deputies. At the same time the strikers protested once more against the death sentence passed on the sailors and against the brutal treatment of political prisoners in the Algachinsky and Kutomarsky prisons.

The strikes and demonstrations were organised by three groups of St. Petersburg Social-Democrats. The proclamation issued three days before the Duma opened bore the following signatures: “The St. Petersburg central Social-Democratic group of trade union organisers," "A group of Social-Democrats," "A group of revolutionary Social-Democrats." Neither the Bolshevik St. Petersburg Committee nor the Organising Bureau of the Mensheviks had anything to do with the publication of the proclamation or the organisation of the strike. The initiators of the strike did not even notify their appeal to the Party committees or the editors of the two papers (Pravda and Luch) or our Duma fraction, which had already been in existence for two weeks.

Such guerrilla action by separate groups, taking the initiative into their own hands, was the result of inadequate organisation of the revolutionary movement. But it can also be partly accounted for by the difficulty of establishing relations with the leading Party committees, which were continually persecuted and hunted by the secret police and which therefore had to keep their whereabouts very secret.

These circumstances determined the character of such actions: they all lacked a clearly defined and firm Party line. Their usual slogans were "non-factional spirit" and "unity" and they possessed that vagueness and indefiniteness which was later characteristic of the future mezhraiontsi.*

* Members of the so-called "Inter-district Organisation of United Social-Democrats," which originated some time before the war, and embraced some "non-fraction" Social-Democrats. It led a separate existence up to the summer of 1917, when it joined the Party. – Ed.

Both Bolshevik and Menshevik slogans appeared in the proclamation issued by these groups. It called for "the confiscation of landlords' estates," "freedom of association," "genuine representation of the people" and "a struggle for a democratic republic," etc. It was distributed at the factories three days previous to Novem.ber 15, and at the same time the organisers of the strike carried on oral agitation among the workers. Thus both our fraction and the St. Petersburg Party centres were confronted with an accomplished fact.

A conference was at once called, attended by the Bolshevik and Menshevik deputies, who by that time had arrived in St. Petersburg, and representatives of the St. Petersburg Committee, the Menshevik Committee, and the editorial boards of both papers, Pravda and Luch. The Mensheviks were completely opposed to both the strike and the demonstration, which they regarded as a waste of forces, and they considered that it was necessary to check the proposed action. "The strike fever," "incitement to rioting," such were the terms applied by the Liquidators to the ever more frequent strikes and the militancy of the working class. We Bolsheviks regarded this attitude towards the proposed strike as inadmissible. Although the strike had been prepared in an unorganised way, and not as it should have been prepared, nevertheless, since the appeal to strike had evoked sympathetic response from the workers, we regarded it as wrong to oppose their action.

At the instance of the Menshevik majority, however, a communication was issued in the name of the fraction to the effect that, according to the information of the fraction, the proclamation distributed at the factories "does not emanate from any of the authoritative St. Petersburg Social-Democratic groups."

The Liquidators were not satisfied with this declaration and started in Luch a campaign for smashing the strike, contemptibly insinuating that "the appeal to strike is an attempt made by unknown persons to abuse the enthusiasm of the workers," that "this renders its origin very suspicious," etc. However, although they were unable to paralyse or to frustrate the strike altogether, they succeeded in considerably hampering its development.

The behaviour of the Mensheviks aroused violent protests from the groups which had organised the strike. This made the position of the Bolshevik section of the fraction very difficult. But while the unorganised character of the strike, its precipitate and incorrect preparation made it difficult for the Bolshevik deputies to define their attitude, the Liquidators cleverly took advantage of the situation and conducted their anti-strike campaign. It was necessary to clarify the position and to ascertain all the circumstances of the case. The question was first discussed in the St. Petersburg Committee, which then made a report to the fraction, insisting on the necessity of investigating the case jointly with representatives from those groups which had declared the strike. For this purpose the fraction set up a commission in which Skobelev represented the Mensheviks, and I the Bolsheviks. Late at night, on the premises of a printing-shop, we held a meeting with the groups' representatives and with members of the St. Petersburg Committee. All the circumstances concerning the declaration of the strike and the publication of the proclamations were examined (it transpired, in particular, that most of the strike organisers were Bolsheviks). The results of these negotiations were reported to a meeting of the fraction. Finally the conflict was settled and the Mensheviks had to acknowledge that their course of action had been incorrect.

According to the estimate of the secret police, about 30,000 St. Petersburg workers took part in the one-day strike on November 15. The secret police report to the director of the police department describes the events which took place in the streets of St. Petersburg on that day in the following words:

“From 11 a.m., small groups of workers were noticed moving along the sidewalks in the neighbourhood of the Taurida Palace, and at about 3 p.m. a number of university students and intellectuals appeared at the same place. For a long time the crowd walked round the Taurida gardens, but the police prevented them from gathering together and they gradually dispersed.

"At about 3.30 p.m. a crowd formed of these workers and students appeared in Kirochnaya Street. Singing revolutionary songs, and carrying a red flag, about the size of a handkerchief, bearing the legend "Down with Autocracy," they came out to Liteyny Prospect and went towards Nevsky Prospect. At the corner of Liteyny Prospect and Basseynaya and Simeonovskaya Streets, the ordinary police dispersed the demonstrators, picked up the flag from the sidewalk where the crowd had gathered and arrested the flag-bearer.

"At 3 p.m., a similar crowd of about 100 people from among those who were near the Taurida Palace walked from the other end of Kirochnaya Street, without any demonstrations, along the Surorov Prospect towards the Nevsky Prospect. At the corner of the Sixth Rozhdestvenskaya Street they were dispersed by the police.

"Then, also at 3 p.m. in Ligovskaya Street near Znamenskaya Square, a small crowd of workers assembled and tried to proceed along the right side of Ligovskaya Street towards the Obvodny canal, but this crowd was soon broken up by the police. About 15 to 20 people, apparently a remnant of this crowd, came up to the candy factory of Bligken and Robinson, which is situated at No. 52 Ligovskaya Street, and forced their way through the gateway, guarded by a watchman, into the courtyard of the factory. They intended to enter the factory in order to induce the workers there to leave work, but a police patrol arrived in time to prevent them realising this intention. Some of the participants in these disorders managed to climb over the hedge and conceal themselves on the railway lines of the Nikolaievskaya Railway, but seven were arrested and will be prosecuted in accordance with the regulations in force."

The well-informed secret police, however, somewhat toned down the events in its report. For example, it failed to report that one of the demonstrations was dispersed by the police with drawn swords; that those workers who entered the courtyard of the Bligken and Robinson factory did not get there of their own free will, but were driven there by the police, who attacked them savagely with poles and iron bars; also no information is given of other clashes with the demonstrators.

During the demonstration several people were arrested, including a number of trade union organisers, and the searches and arrests continued even on the eve of the opening of the Duma. The police were particularly anxious to find Bolsheviks and ignored the Mensheviks. After a search, Comrade Baturin (N. Zmayatin) was arrested, but Comrade Molotov, who was specially hunted for by the police, managed to escape.

Thus, the Fourth State Duma opened in an environment typical of the tsarist regime. The workers came to welcome their deputies and the police greeted the workers with the usual crop of searches, arrests and beatings-up.

While the police in the streets of St. Petersburg were demonstrating to the workers the Russian constitution “in actual practice,” the Duma was solemnly and ceremoniously opened within the walls of the Taurida Palace. After a number of prayers had been recited, the aged tsarist Secretary of State, Golubev, read the "all-highest ukase,'' greeted by a loud hurrah from the people's representatives. In order to remind the opposition that, even if it was admitted to the Duma, it must be silent and offer no obstruction, Golubev refused to allow the Social-Democrats and the Trudoviks to speak and explain their reasons for refusing to take part in the election of a chairman. The first sitting was wound up by the speech of the chairman-elect, M. K. Rodzyanko, who, in a stentorian voice, swore that "the Duma was steadfastly and firmly devoted to its crowned head." The Fourth State Duma had begun its work.

The 442 deputies in the Duma were divided among the following parties: 65 Rights, 120 Nationalists and moderate Rights, 98 Octobrists, 48 Progressives, 59 Cadets, 21 National Groups (Poles, White Russians, Mohammedans), 10 Trudoviks, 14 Social-Democrats and 7 Independents. The electoral system, established by the law of June 3, had naturally given a majority to the landlords and nobles, bitter enemies of the working class and the peasantry. The Black Hundred Duma, though it was divided into various parties and groups, was in reality a reliable bulwark of tsarism. While Purishkevich, Markov and other "diehards" expressed their devotion to the existing regime by loud hurrahs, Milyukov, not to mention the Octobrists, only covered up that devotion by liberal phrases. The Octobrist-Cadet opposition was a sham; at the least scolding by tsarist ministers they immediately forgot their grandiloquent words and revealed their counter-revolutionary character.

The Cadets displayed their true sympathies at the opening sitting by voting for the Octobrist, Rodzyanko, as chairman of the Duma. Rodzyanko, gentleman-in-waiting at the Imperial Court and a big landowner in the Yekaterinoslav Gubernia, possessed a stentorian voice, was very tall and had a commanding presence. Moreover, the new chairman had other qualities; he had gained the reputation of being a faithful servant of the tsar and had proved his mettle in the preceding Duma, where he had dealt very efficiently with the deputies of the Left, whom he gagged and persecuted in every way.

While supporting the candidature of Rodzyanko, the Cadets tried to persuade the Trudoviks and our Social-Democratic fraction to participate in the election of the chairman. The Trudoviks wavered at first and their leader, Dzyubinsky, even opened negotiations on this matter. Finally, however, they overcame the vacillations and waverings so typical of the representatives of the lower middle-class and refused to take part in the election of the Duma Presidium.

For our fraction, the question of taking part in the election of the Duma Presidium was perfectly clear. We categorically rejected the offer of the Cadets. It was absolutely immaterial to us who was the chairman of the Duma. Participation in the election of the chairman would have meant assuming a certain degree of responsibility for the work of the Duma majority, which, as was perfectly well known, was hostile to the working class. The principle underlying our attitude towards Duma work was emphasised by our fraction in a declaration handed in at the opening of the Duma which, as I stated above, the Secretary of State, Golubev, would not allow us to read. This declaration ran as follows:

The chairman has always to carry out the will and desire of the State Duma. It is obvious, therefore, that whoever takes part in the election of the chairman, thereby assumes responsibility for the activity of the Duma. For this reason, the Social-Democratic fraction in the preceding Duma abstained during the election of the chairman, refusing to be associated with the Third Duma, the Duma of the coup d’état, the Duma of the master classes, the Duma called upon to struggle against all the essential interests of the people. We know that the chairman of such a Duma would systematically attack members of the Social-Democratic fraction, whenever the latter spoke from the Duma rostrum in defence of the interests of the masses. We can boldly assert that the Social-Democratic fraction emerged victorious from that struggle; in spite of all efforts their voice was not silenced but was heard by the workers. We are sure that we shall be equally successful in the Fourth Duma, whether the chairman be elected from the moderate Khvostovists or the rabid Markovists, from the once moderate and now less moderate Right of the Gololobovists or from the former supporters of Gutchkov.* Despite all combinations and schemes, we shall say what we intend and shall not forget for a moment that the place we occupy has been obtained at the price of the blood of the people. We shall maintain here freedom of speech in spite of the recent judicial decision of the Senate rendering members liable to prosecution for speeches delivered in the Duma. We shall not allow our rights to express our views freely to be curtailed, although the Duma majority consists of the nominees of the Sablers, Makarovs, etc.**

You are welcome to choose a chairman acceptable to the majority p we shall use the rostrum in the interests of the people.

* Khvostov, Markov and Gololobov were Rights and Nationalists. Gutchkov was the leader of the Octobrists.

** V. K. Sabler was the chief procurator of the Synod and head of the State ecclesiastical department. A. A. Makarov was Minister of the Interior.

By our refusal to participate in the election of the chairman we demonstrated, on the first day of the Fourth Duma, that there could be no question of "parliamentary" work for us, that the working class only used the Duma for the greater consolidation and strengthening of the revolutionary struggle in the country. A similar attitude determined the nature of our relations with the Duma majority. No joint work, but a sustained struggle against the Rights, the Octobrists and the Cadets, and their exposure in the eyes of the workers; this was the task of the workers' deputies in the Duma of landlords and nobles.

Despite their failure on the question of the chairman, within the next few days the Cadets made another attempt to draw the Social- Democratic fraction into some agreement. They invited our fraction to a joint meeting of the "united opposition" to discuss certain bills which were being drafted by the Cadet fraction. In reply to this invitation the Social-Democratic fraction passed a resolution stating that they would undertake no joint work with the Cadets, that the Cadets were essentially counter-revolutionary and that no friendly relations were possible between them and the party of the working class. During the election campaign, our fraction declared, the Social-Democrats fought the party of the liberal bourgeoisie and the same policy would be followed in the Duma itself. Pravda commented on this resolution as follows: "We welcome this decision of the Social-Democratic fraction; it is the only correct one and reflects the will of Social-Democrats outside the Duma."

The only fraction with which the Social Democrats maintained more or less close relations was that of the Trudoviks. Notwithstanding its "Left" tendencies, this group was very unstable and vacillated from the Social-Democrats on the one side to the Cadets and Progressives on the other. Precisely for this reason we thought it necessary to establish closer relations with the Trudoviks in order to win them over from the Cadets and bring them more under our own influence. We arranged joint meetings with them for the purpose of discussing various aspects of Duma work, and sometimes we visited their fraction meetings and invited them to attend ours.

The government declaration of policy read in the Duma a few days after its opening, presented all the Duma fractions with an opportunity to declare their policies. The debate which follows the announcement of the government's policy is considered most important in all parliaments. These are the "great days" of parliamentary life, when the parties do not deal with individual bills, but formulate their criticism or approval of the government's policy as a whole. On the basis of their statements in this debate on general policy, the electorate can judge the entire activities of the parliamentary parties. Consequently the contributions of the various parties to these debates are carefully prepared beforehand.

The government declaration in the Fourth Duma was read by Kokovtsev, the president of the Council of Ministers, on December 5, 1912. The ministerial box was full. The parade was completed by the full attendance of the Duma presidium, big crowds in the public boxes and galleries and the presence of foreign ambassadors with their suites, etc.

Kokovtsev started by praising the Third Duma which, in five years, had passed 2,500 laws of various kinds. This praiseworthy behaviour of the preceding Duma was held up as an example to the Fourth Duma, from which the government obviously expected a similar aptitude for the legislative farce. Then the president of the Council of Ministers proceeded to enumerate the reforms by which the government proposed to render the country happy and prosperous. In all spheres of administration the government promised to carry out "important measures of reorganisation": strengthening and improving the police administration, as a contribution towards the improvement of local government; fewer passport formalities, and the introduction of a stricter law concerning the press in the sphere of guaranteeing the "inviolability of the person"; assistance and material support for the church parish-schools and more careful school inspection, as far as popular education was concerned, etc. Kokovtsev concluded his speech by appealing to the Duma to discuss bills submitted to it "without party prejudice, all agreeing to work in harmony for the welfare of the fatherland, equally dear to us all." Translated into plain language this meant that the Duma was invited to accept all the proposals of the tsarist government and not to hinder it in any way.

The debate on the government's declaration began on December 7 and continued throughout several sittings. Our reply was read on the first day.

The Social-Democratic fraction had spent a great deal of time in framing its statement, having begun on this work as soon as the fraction was formed, before the Duma opened. It was a very important and responsible task because the statement had to explain the fundamental demands of the working class and to expound the programme of the vanguard of the workers – the Social-Democratic Party. It was quite natural that during the discussion of the draft reply, clashes should occur between the Menshevik and Bolshevik sections of the fraction. The fraction acted in the name of the Party as a whole, but the contradictions in the programmes of the two sections were very acute. Under such conditions the framing of a united declaration of the fraction presented enormous difficulties and led to intense struggles between our Bolshevik group and the Menshevik deputies.

During the discussion the Bolshevik section of the fraction held firmly to the decisions of the Prague Conference which had defined the three "unabridged" demands of the working class (an eight-hour day, confiscation of landlords' estates, and a democratic republic). The Mensheviks, on the other hand, stood on the platform of the "August bloc" with its programme of freedom of working men's associations under the autocracy, cultural autonomy for the national minorities, etc.

We resolutely opposed the Mensheviks and insisted on including the Bolshevik demands in the declaration. Disputes arose not only over the main points, but over every phrase, every expression. In fact, two separate drafts were discussed and were finally merged into one text. In addition to the deputies, Party leaders of both sections took part in the drafting of the statement. Comrade Stalin, representing the Bolshevik Central Committee, was very active in pressing for the inclusion of our three demands, while the Mensheviks mobilised Levitsky, Lezhnov and Mayevsky and many other publicists of Luch. After a long and stubborn struggle, we contrived at last to have all the basic demands of the Bolsheviks included in the declaration.

On the initiative of the Mensheviks, Malinovsky, the vice-chairman of the fraction, was appointed to read the declaration. This was a tactical move on the part of the Mensheviks, who thought that, in return for allowing a Bolshevik to read the declaration, the text of which had been decided in detail beforehand, they would be more than compensated in some other direction.

The declaration as read by Malinovsky did not completely correspond with the text as framed by the fraction. Although he was reading the written statement, Malinovsky omitted a passage of considerable length criticising the State Duma and demanding the sovereignty of the people.

When questioned with regard to this, Malinovsky replied that he himself did not know how it had occurred, that he failed to understand how he had omitted one of the most important points of the declaration. We accounted for it by the great agitation experienced by Malinovsky in making his first speech in the Duma. It appeared that he had felt the antagonistic atmosphere of the Duma and had been affected by the conduct of the chairman and the hostile shouting of the Rights. This explanation seemed quite plausible to us then, the more so since we knew from our own experience the difficulties of speaking for the first time in the Duma.

The truth was learned subsequently when the role of Malinovsky as an agent-provocateur was revealed and established by documentary proof. Then it was discovered that he had previously shown the declaration to Byeletsky, the director of the police department, who in his turn had informed Makarov, the Minister of the Interior. Malinovsky was asked to introduce a number of amendments in order to soften the tone of the declaration, but being afraid of arousing suspicions as to his true role, he refused and finally consented to omit the passage on the "people's sovereignty," about which the police were particularly concerned.

While he was reading from the rostrum, Malinovsky took advantage of the fact that, just before he came to the passage in question, Rodzyanko uttered one of his usual reprimands. As if in a flurry, due to the chairman's reprimand, Malinovsky turned over the pages lying in front of him and omitted the whole passage. Malinovsky had also been instructed by the police to behave in a most provocative way to the chairman so as to be cut short by the latter. Malinovsky, however, did not manage this and Rodzyanko failed to understand his signal when, in reply to repeated warnings by the chairman, he shouted "Well, stop me!" The declaration, though with omissions, was read to the end.

The speech was fully reported in Pravda, which was permitted by law to publish the stenographic reports of the Duma sittings. In this way the text of the declaration was widely circulated among the masses to whom it was, in fact, addressed. Thus the demands incorporated in the declaration, its criticism of the Black Hundred regime and of the tsarist government, assisted and intensified the struggle of the workers against tsarism.

Chapter V

The First Interpellation

The Significance of Duma Interpellations – The Persecution of the Metal-Workers' Union – The First Interpellation of the Social-Democratic Fraction – My First Speech in the Duma – Speech in Support of "Urgency" – Strikes and Demonstrations in Support of the Interpellation – The Lock-out at Maxwell's Factory

The workers' deputies found that interpellations addressed to the government from the Duma rostrum were a most useful means of agitation. By asking various questions we succeeded in concentrating the attention of the masses on definite crimes committed by the tsarist government. These interpellations, based on current events, enabled us to use the rostrum in a Bolshevik manner, i.e. to carry on an agitation, over the heads of the Black Hundred majority, among the working class for solidarity and determination in the revolutionary onslaught on the existing regime. On these occasions the Bolsheviks trenchantly and straightforwardly exposed the sores and rottenness of tsarism and the bourgeoisie. In connection with every event which served as the occasion for an interpellation, we showed the worker that there was no reason for him to expect any improvement in his conditions and that the only path for the proletariat was the path of revolution.

"Is the minister aware of this and what steps does he propose to take?" – this concluding sentence of every interpellation had no importance for the workers' deputies. We were perfectly aware that every instance of oppression and police outrage was well known to the tsarist ministers with whose blessing and by whose orders it occurred, and we knew in advance that the ministers would do nothing to prevent such infractions of the law. Neither did we attach any importance to the replies given by the ministers who, in the most flagrant cases, tried to hide the facts behind a hedge of formalities. For us, the significance and purpose of each interpellation was that we proclaimed to the entire working class the truth about the nature of the autocratic regime and enabled the masses to draw the necessary conclusions.

Since the interpellation became a powerful weapon in the hands of the Social-Democratic fraction, it was only natural that the government, assisted by its faithful Black Hundred Duma, should take all possible measures to blunt it. The procedure by which interpellations in the Duma were made was exceedingly complicated and enabled the majority consisting of landlords and nobles to delay or shelve any interpellation which it deemed undesirable or dangerous.

The chief difficulty of our fraction was that an interpellation could only be introduced if it was signed by at least thirty-three Duma members. The signatures of our fourteen members, together with those of the ten Trudoviks, the party nearest to us in the Duma, did not give us the required number. We had to "borrow" signatures from the Cadets or the Progressives. The conditions under which the various parliamentary parties associated were such that individual members of the Cadets and Progressives sometimes added their signatures to our interpellations. But this only occurred rarely and very often they flatly refused to help us.

Even when the signatures had been secured, the matter was by no means settled. It was necessary to insist that the question be brought up for discussion, and this was not in the interests of the Duma chairman, Rodzyanko, gentleman-in-waiting to his imperial majesty. One method of delaying an interpellation was to deny its urgency. Before deciding whether or not the question itself should be allowed, the Duma first discussed whether it should be treated as urgent. The Duma majority decided against nearly all the questions of the Social-Democratic fraction and turned them over to the "interpellation commission" where they remained for several months.

This was a regular method of shelving a question. It was reckoned that if it remained long enough in the commission the point in question would lose its actuality and therefore would not create the effect in the country which it had been calculated to produce.

However, we were able, during the debate on urgency, to achieve the purpose for which the question had been framed. Speeches made in this debate actually dealt with the substance of the question. Under the guise of advocating the urgency of the question, the Social-Democratic deputies exposed and denounced the existing regime. In this connection a constant struggle proceeded with the Duma chairman, who had received special instructions from the government to hinder in every possible way the speeches made by the Lefts. The chairman carefully followed our speeches, trying to anticipate and prevent all digressions from the formal topic of urgency; while we, ignoring his calls to order, went ahead and said what we regarded as necessary. Most of these encounters ended in Rodzyanko or his vice-chairman losing patience and stopping the workers' deputies in the middle of their speeches.

Unceremonious attempts to deprive the Social-Democrats of the right to make interpellations had also been frequently made by the Black Hundreds in the Third Duma. We had to expect a similar procedure in the Fourth Duma, but this was yet another reason why we should fight harder and more persistently to ensure that the voices of the workers' deputies should be heard as far as possible all over the country. Pravda wrote:

We can predict with absolute certainty that, in the Fourth Duma, the Purishkeviches and the Khvostovs will try to prevent the interpellations of the workers' deputies. These gentry would like to gag all the real representatives of the people. We can foretell, however, with equal certainty, that now that the working class is awake and democracy is closing its ranks, the reactionary gentlemen will be less successful than ever in their efforts.

In their demands drawn up during the election campaign, the workers had advocated the introduction of a number of interpellations. From the commencement of our Duma work, workers' resolutions began to stream into our fraction requesting that the government be questioned on various matters. They suggested that interpellations should be framed on the faking of the Duma elections, the persecution of trade unions, the treatment of political prisoners in Kutomarskaya, Algachinskaya and other prisons, the results of the inquiry into the Lena goldfields shootings, the passing of the "insurance law," the case of the Social-Democratic deputies of the Second Duma, etc.

Immediately after it was formed, the Social-Democratic fraction began to collect material for interpellations, and to prepare for their introduction. In order to introduce an interpellation it was necessary to word it in the correct legal language and make the appropriate references to the various laws and government regulations constituting the official grounds for the interpellation. In this legal side of the work we were assisted by N. Krestinsky, N. D. Sokolov, A. Yuriev and other social-democratic lawyers who were living in St. Petersburg.

As soon as the opening formalities had been disposed of, such as the verification of credentials, the elections of the presidium, the government's declaration of policy and the debate on it, our fraction introduced its first interpellation. This dealt with the persecution of trade unions. The formal ground on which it was based was the refusal to register a trade union in St. Petersburg, but in reality it covered the position of trade unions in general.

The formation and existence of trade unions was regulated by the law, or "provisional rules" as they were called, of March 4, 1906, which dealt with all associations and societies. This law really provided not for the formation of societies, but for their suppression. Trade unions were entirely at the mercy of any official, from the governor of the province or city down to the police inspector. But however much trade union rights were restricted legally, it was not enough for the authorities. The "provisional rules" were not regarded as binding by the police, who violated them most unceremoniously.

Unions were suppressed in rapid succession and on most incredible grounds. Immediately a trade union began to develop its work, it was suppressed. This persecution did not discourage the workers, but, on the contrary, led to an increase in the number of workers joining the unions. When a union was closed down, a new one was organised with the same membership and the same aims, but under another name. There were, however, a multitude of police obstacles to be overcome before a new society could be formed. The registration of unions was in the hands of the so- called "special boards" which rejected applications on the most absurd grounds. A union was never registered the first time it applied; only after a series of refusals, and if the patience and persistency of the founders were superhuman, was the new union finally granted the right to exist, or rather the right to a quick death at the discretion of the police.

According to the official statistics, 497 trade unions were suppressed and 604 were refused registration during the first five years (1906-11) after the law of March 4, 1906, came into force. In April 1908, the Social-Democratic fraction in the Third Duma introduced an interpellation dealing with the persecution of trade unions and quoting 144 cases of illegal suppressions of unions in various parts of Russia. The interpellation, of course, was not considered urgent and was turned over to a commission, from which it emerged a year later accompanied by a meaningless resolution which expressed the pious wish "that the Minister for the Interior should take the necessary steps so that the authorities concerned observe the provisional rules of March 4, 1906."

After 1911, as the labour movement developed, there was a corresponding growth in trade union activity. The number of unions increased and police persecutions became more violent. During this period, the St. Petersburg union of metal workers, which played an important part in the progress of the labour movement, was subjected to particularly savage persecution. The metal workers' union was important, not only as an industrial organisation, but principally as a centre for all the progressive, revolutionary workers and as an organisation around which the Party forces were concentrated. It therefore displayed exceptional vitality and naturally incurred specially virulent attacks from the authorities.

This union was founded illegally during the 1905 revolution, and since 1906, when it was officially registered, it had survived several suppressions and resurrections under new names. Its name, which was at first the "Union of metal workers," changed successively to "trade union of workers in the metal industry," "trade union of workers engaged in enterprises of the metallurgical industry," etc. Each of these unions, although officially a new society, was, in fact, a continuation of the preceding one, from which it took over the union funds and membership. The police were well aware that this changing of names was a farce, but they could not take action against the union on this ground and were forced to wait for an appropriate moment to dissolve the “new” association.

In March 1912, the police made one of their periodical raids and the union was closed by the "special board" on several grounds, of which the principal were the possession of illegal literature and the organisation of strikes. This time the police had planned to delay the registration of a new society as long as possible, hoping that, in the meantime, the organisation would collapse. But they were wrong in their calculations. To preserve the union, the committee had taken advantage of statutes they had in reserve of a society which they had succeeded in registering in 1908, the registration still possessing legal force. Account books and membership books of this society, which never actually existed, were hastily fabricated and the liquidation meeting of the suppressed union decided to hand over all its property and funds to this society and recommended all its members to join it. In this way the metal workers' union continued for another five months until, in the autumn of 1912, after further police raids, it was again suppressed. The following three charges were officially made against the union: non-admittance of the police to inspect documents, organisation of strikes and granting of relief to the unemployed. The "special board" asserted that grants could only be made to union members and that only workers actually employed in a particular industry could be members of the union. Thus an unemployed worker ceased to be a member of the society. This ruling was a direct violation of the union statutes, framed in accordance with the law, and it supplied the employers with a very simple method of smashing the trade union organisation whenever they decided to do so. It was enough to declare a lock-out, and then, since there were no members of the union working, the union would have to close down.

The suppression of the society caused great indignation among the St. Petersburg workers, but in no way lessened their enthusiasm for trade union work. The liquidation commission elected at the general meeting continued the work of the old committee and endeavoured to prolong the business of liquidation until a new union had been organised. The police, on the other hand, hampered the work of the commission as much as possible. Contrary to all rules and law, they appeared at the meetings of the commission and finally prohibited it from meeting. The members of the society lodged a protest, but this was filed at the city governor's office and its consideration indefinitely postponed. The complaint was lodged on November 2; after waiting a month members of the liquidation commission went to the governor's office to inquire whether they were allowed to meet. The reply was: "this will be communicated to you by the police." After another two weeks they applied again and received the same reply and so it went on.

At the same time the police did everything they could to prevent the formation of a new society. The statutes of the new society were framed with due observance of all the requirements of the law, but this did not prevent the "special board" from refusing to register them. This decision of the "board," which was taken on October 6, but not communicated to the organisers until November 28, had no legal justification. It plainly revealed the real motive of the refusal – the fear that the union would again become the centre of the revolutionary struggle of the St. Petersburg metal workers.

The Social-Democratic fraction decided to use all these illegal proceedings, which plainly revealed the general policy of persecution of trade union organisations, as material for a new interpellation of the government. Besides, the interpellation referred to a number of illegal requirements enforced on organisers of new societies: they were prohibited to include amongst the objects of the society any measures calculated to further the intellectual and cultural development of the members; the right of unemployed members of the society to continue in membership was not admitted; instead of monthly, yearly membership dues were to be introduced; the societies were not permitted to expel members "found guilty of dishonourable behaviour by a court of comrades," they were required to name in the statutes a charitable organisation to which the funds of the society were to be transferred in the event of its suppression, etc. These demands were very prejudicial to the independence of the unions and altogether paralysed their activities. They were enumerated in the interpellation, which continued as follows:

All the above demands were made by the "special board" not only on the metal workers' union, but on all trade unions which have recently submitted their statutes for registration. It is impossible to regard this action of the "board " as anything but a flagrantly illegal interference with the internal life of trade unions and an open violation of the law of March 4, 1906. On this ground we address the following interpellation to the Ministers of the Interior and Justice:

1. Is the Minister of the Interior aware that the St. Petersburg special city board refuses to register trade unions on grounds not provided in the law of March 4, 1906, and thereby violates this law?

2. Is the Minister of Justice aware that a representative of the public prosecutor, although a witness to repeated violations of the law by the St. Petersburg city special beard, refrains from making any protest against these violations?

3. If the Ministers of the Interior and Justice are aware of these facts, what measures have they taken to enforce the law.''

It was arranged that the question should be discussed in the Duma on December 14, on the eve of the adjournment for the Christmas recess. I was charged by the fraction to speak on the interpellation. Under the guise of defending the urgency of the question, I was to deal with the subject-matter of the interpellation itself and, after exposing the illegal character of the persecution of trade unions, show that the masses could only achieve any improvement in their conditions through revolutionary struggle. Such was the usual content and trend of speeches delivered by the workers' deputies.

This was to be my "maiden" speech in the Duma. To the reactionary majority of the latter our speeches were intolerable. The straightforwardness and bluntness and sharpness of the workers' deputies made the Black Hundred "diehards" mad with rage. This was specially apparent when our speeches touched on the conditions of the St. Petersburg workers. The steady growth of the revolutionary movement among the St. Petersburg workers made itself felt even within the Taurida Palace and our appeal to the workers to intensify their attack was another reminder for the faithful defenders of tsarism that, sooner or later, the movement would sweep away that tsarist stronghold and all that it supported.

To confuse and frighten a workers' deputy, to cut short his speech, such were the tactics of the Duma majority, especially on his first attempt to speak. The majority and the chairman, who carried out their will, strove to make the first speech of a workers' deputy his last; they tried to make him lose his nerve and so remain voiceless, like so many members of the Duma majority who sat in the Taurida Palace throughout the whole of the Fourth Duma without once opening their mouths. They were so cowed by the Duma atmosphere that force would have been needed to drag them to the rostrum.

The nervousness to which every workers' deputy was subject when making his first speech in the Duma was unique in his experience. When I mounted the rostrum I felt very keenly the responsibility which rested on a workers' representative. A speech in the Duma did not resemble in any way those speeches which I had to deliver at various illegal and legal meetings of workers. Here, we, the representatives of the workers, stood face to face with the enemy, the age-long oppressors of the working class. We had to express directly and openly, without subterfuges or parliamentary tricks, all that the masses were thinking, to proclaim their needs and to hurl their accusations at the representatives of the existing regime.

Every word spoken by a workers' deputy was listened to, not only in the Duma hall, but by the millions of the Russian proletarians, who regarded us as the defenders of their interests. Our speeches and appeals delivered in the Duma echoed the revolutionary sentiments of the workers and strengthened them in their struggle against their enemies. From the floor of the Duma we had to show the straining of the will of the working class, to demonstrate the force which the Russian proletariat had accumulated during long years.

Each of us experienced great difficulty when making his first speech in this home of tsarist autocracy. It was a great strain to talk down the howling of the Black Hundreds, to fight against the continual interruptions of the chairman and, having described the political and economic enslavement of the working class, to challenge its oppressors.

The immunity of deputies and "freedom of speech" in the Duma were only tsarist lies. It was perfectly plain to us that the government was merely waiting for a suitable pretext to deal summarily with the workers' deputies. The case of the Social-Democratic members of the Second Duma, who were sent to penal settlements in a body, was still fresh in our minds. "Some leave the Duma rostrum to become ministers, others, workers' deputies, to become convicts." These words of Lenin described very exactly the possible fate of workers' deputies. But the greater the menace, the more difficulties we had to overcome, the more vigorous our speeches became. The persecutions suffered by the deputies had a radicalising effect on the workers and stiffened them in the revolutionary struggle.

At first my speech was listened to in rapt attention by the entire house. It was an evening sitting and the great hall of the Taurida Palace was flooded with light. The ministerial box was occupied by members of the government, another box next to the tribune was filled with representatives of the press. The public galleries were crowded. Wives of high officials peered at me through their lorgnettes anxious to see how a locksmith would behave himself and what he would say in the Duma. On the other side, holding their breath and trying to catch every word, a handful of workers, who had managed to obtain tickets, were listening to the speech of their deputy.

The portly figure of Rodzyanko towered on the chairman's seat. He kept his bell ready and concentrated all his attention on my speech in order not to let slip any opportunity of interrupting me.

I was not allowed to conclude my speech, which was cut down by the chairman as soon as I touched on the general conditions of the working class and the persecutions to which it was subject on the part of the government.

Both sides of the house applauded as I left the rostrum; it was genuine approval of my speech from the Left, whereas the Right and centre were congratulating Rodzyanko on keeping a workers' deputy in order.

Our interpellation concerning the persecution of trade unions was of course voted down by the Black Hundred majority. The same fate befell the second interpellation of the Social-Democratic fraction. This dealt with the non-authorisation of meetings and the elections of the insurance commissions; it was discussed at the same Duma sitting on December 14. In both cases the Duma rejected the motion for urgency and the interpellations were sent to the interpellation commission, where they were shelved. The working class could expect no other decision from this Duma of landlords and nobles. The aim of our interpellations was to demonstrate and expose the real nature of the existing regime.

This demonstration arranged by the Social-Democratic fraction inside the Black Hundred Duma was supported and strengthened by the action of the St. Petersburg workers, who declared a one-day strike on the same day. While we were speaking from the Duma rostrum about the latest example of tsarist oppression, the workers deserted the factories and works and, at hastily summoned meetings, carried resolutions of protest.

The one-day strike on December 14 was well organised and prepared. Examples of the persecution of trade unions, such as the prohibition of meetings called to deal with insurance questions, appeared daily in Pravda; the paper also dealt with the "appointment" of "workers'" representatives to the insurance commissions and with the actual working of the abortive government insurance law. These articles were so worded that, although the censor could not object to them, the advanced workers could read between the lines an appeal to organise demonstrations on the day that our interpellations were discussed in the Duma. Finally on December 13, the Bolsheviks, in a proclamation signed by the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, appealed for strike action to support the Social-Democratic fraction.

On the day that the proclamation was issued, meetings were held at a number of factories and resolutions were passed welcoming the Duma interpellations and promising support for the fraction. For example, the resolution passed at Pahl's factory stated: "By our strike we are supporting the interpellation of the Social-Democratic fraction in the Fourth State Duma." All the resolutions contained a determined protest against the persecution of trade unions and against the police control of the insurance commissions. The appeal to strike action met with an enthusiastic response, the workers of thirteen establishments immediately leaving work, and only insignificant groups, or rather individual workers, mainly women, remained at work.

The strike did not end on December 14. The next morning other factories and works joined in, while those already out did not return. Factory after factory came out and in all the strike movement lasted for over a week. It is difficult to form a reliable estimate of the number of workers who participated, but it was certainly not fewer than 60,000, i.e. the number employed in the largest works in St. Petersburg. In addition, however, a number of small undertakings were involved: printing shops, repair shops, etc. This formidable protest strike of the St. Petersburg proletariat demonstrated the full solidarity of the masses with their deputies.

The strike was accompanied not only by the usual police repression, but also by a counter-offensive of the employers. The 3,000 workers employed at the Petrovskaya and Spasskaya factories, owned by Maxwell, found the following notice posted on the closed gates on December 15, the day after the one-day strike: “In view of the frequent strikes and the warning that has already been given to workers, the management is compelled to pay off all workers. The date when the paying-off will take place will be announced later.” Large patrols of police officers and constables were stationed round the factories. The workers decided not to accept payment of their wages so as to delay the re-opening of the factory, as they knew that there were many orders to be fulfilled and that every idle day caused a great loss to the owners. During the first half of the day only a few foremen strike-breakers appeared to be paid and thereby ensured that they would be reinstated. After dinner the spirit of the workers gave way a little and a queue assembled before the office. The management were assisted throughout by the police, who shepherded the workers into the office. Inside, the manager of the factory himself was in command, with a list in his hand of all “rebellious elements.” As the cashier paid off the workmen – in most cases they only drew fifty kopeks to one ruble, as provisions bought in the factory store were deducted from wages – the manager stamped the paybooks of those who were reinstated. Very many were refused. Trying to hit the "unreliables" as hard as possible, the management discharged whole families, husbands and wives, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters.

This sifting of the workers, however, did not help the management much. On the following day, after a few hours' work, the reinstated workers all came out on strike demanding the re-engagement of the dismissed workers. The police attempt to prevent the workers from leaving the factory failed and the workers dispersed, deriding and threatening the police.

In spite of arrests and a series of repressive measures, such as the eviction of those discharged from the factory-owned apartments, the workers did not give in. The stubborn fight against victimisation of the workers at Maxwell's factories gained the support of the rest of the St. Petersburg proletariat. At all factories and works collections were taken to relieve the victims of the lock-out and to support the strike.

Our Duma fraction was the centre and organiser of these collections. Daily we received funds collected not only at St. Petersburg factories, but also from the workers of other industrial centres (Moscow, Warsaw, Lodz, Riga, etc.). Pravda published a long list of factories and works at which collections were made. It demonstrated that the working class regarded the fight at Maxwell’s factories not as an isolated phenomenon, but as a phase in the class war with the capitalists.

The members of the Social-Democratic fraction, the workers’ deputies, were in the thick of the fight. We were in constant communication with the strikers, helped to formulate their demands, handed over the funds collected, negotiated with various governmental authorities, etc.

At both factories the strike lasted over a fortnight. In those days it was regarded as a very protracted strike and the workers were only able to hold out because of the moral and material assistance which they received from the whole of the St. Petersburg workers.

Chapter VI

The Cracow Conference

The "Six" and the Bolshevik Central Committee – The Questionnaire of Lenin – How Connections with the Central Committee were kept up – The Cracow Conference – The most important Decisions of the Conference – Lenin's Suggestions and Directions – The Journey of the Deputies to the Provinces – The Mood of the Workers in the Provinces

The Social-Democratic fraction in the Fourth State Duma was an integral part of the Russian Social-Democratic Party. The fraction played an important part in the work of the Party, but it was only one of the Party organisations. Decisions and resolutions of Party congresses and conferences, bearing on the work of the Social-Democratic fractions in the previous Dumas, defined the fraction as an auxiliary organisation subordinated to the Party and to its Central Committee. This subordination within a strictly centralised system was the prerequisite of successful revolutionary work. Work in underground conditions was impossible unless we adopted this principle. It was only owing to such an organisational structure that our Party was able to overcome the difficulties of the transition period between the two Russian revolutions.

In the Menshevik camp this strict subordination to the directions of the centre was not recognised. In the preceding Dumas, the Menshevik members ignored and violated Party discipline, acting independently of the leading centres of the Party. They regarded the fraction as a super-party organisation and often set it in opposition to the Party centre. The same policy was followed by the Menshevik deputies in the Fourth Duma.

The Bolshevik deputies, on the contrary, were bound by close and indissoluble ties to the leading Party organisations. The entire election campaign to the Fourth Duma had been conducted under the guidance of and in accordance with the instructions of our Central Committee. From Cracow, where our Party headquarters abroad were located, thousands of threads stretched forth, uniting into a single web all our organisations engaged in the election campaign. In addition to issuing general instructions, the Central Committee played an active part in the selection of candidates at the workers' electoral colleges. Thus the Bolshevik deputies entered the Duma as the representatives not only of the local organisations, but of the Party as a whole.

The Duma elections and the entire activity of our "six" from its commencement were under the immediate guidance of Comrade Lenin. During the course of the elections he followed with extreme care the spirit of the workers, the illegal election meetings, directed the election propaganda of Pravda, etc. In article after article in that newspaper, he appealed to the workers to vote for the Bolsheviks against the wire-pulling Liquidators.

Immediately the elections were over and the workers' deputies had arrived in St. Petersburg, Lenin took up the question of the organisation of the fraction, interested himself in each individual deputy, summed up the results of the campaign, investigated the circumstances under which the elections had taken place and examined the instructions given to the deputies by the voters.

A special questionnaire was sent out from Cracow to all deputies elected from workers' electoral colleges. Nineteen points of this questionnaire contained detailed questions on the course of the election campaign and on the deputies themselves. The questionnaire dealt very fully with the degree of workers' participation in the elections, the causes of inadequate attendance at meetings, the prevalence of boycottist sentiments, the distribution of election literature, the methods of drawing up lists of candidates, the debates at meetings, the personnel of the delegates, the activity of other parties, repressive measures applied during the elections, etc. All stages of the elections were covered, from the election of delegates to the election of deputies; at the same time relations with the electors of the other electoral colleges, especially the peasants, were investigated. Other questions dealt with various phases of Party work – the organisation of illegal meetings, the circulation of our newspaper and underground publications, the degrees of influence exercised by Bolsheviks and Liquidators and similar questions.

Lenin requested every deputy not to confine himself to formal answers, but to give a coherent account of the campaign in his district and to describe everything that occurred at the elections. "These questions should in no way be discussed officially with the fraction – that would result only in red tape and squabbles; the deputies should answer themselves and as quickly as possible," wrote Lenin.

As the activity of the fraction developed the connection of our “six” with the Central Committee and above all, with Lenin, became closer. Material, information, etc., was sent to Cracow, and from Cracow the Bolshevik deputies received literature, theses for speeches, instructions on separate questions which arose in the course of their work. These contacts were maintained through letters in code and through Party members who crossed the frontier illegally and by every other possible means. Every opportunity was used and of course everything was done in strict secrecy. Names were never mentioned in correspondence; instead numbers agreed on beforehand or nicknames were used. I was referred to as No. 1, Malinovsky as No. 3, Petrovsky as No. 6, Samoylov as No. 7, Sverdlov was called Audrey, Stalin Vassily, etc. These nicknames and numbers were changed whenever it was suspected that the secret police had guessed their identity.

As we can see now from the material in the archives, the secret police in its turn gave us nicknames which varied in different localities.

The "Black Cabinet" (a secret police department for opening and examining letters) at the General Post Office read all letters addressed to Social-Democratic deputies. Therefore we rarely used the post, or if we did we arranged for letters to be sent to other addresses.

The secret police obtained their most important information from agents-provocateurs. We were, of course, aware that we were surrounded by spies, but it was difficult to discover them. Therefore the strictest secrecy was maintained and a system of conspiracy pervaded everything from the top to the bottom.

Every violation of the system of conspiracy was in itself a ground for suspicion, and made us wonder whether a police scheme was being hatched. I remember one characteristic case. Kiselyov, a Party member employed at the Putilov works, once sent me a letter by post referring to a question to be decided by the St. Petersburg Committee. The fact that the letter was sent in the ordinary way by post and without using any code aroused in me the suspicion that the author was connected with the secret police. I reported the matter to the St. Petersburg Committee and the fraction and it was decided to watch Kiselyov and to be careful in our relations with him. Subsequently our suspicions proved to be well-founded, for Kiselyov turned out to be an agent-provocateur.

We were not always successful in detecting such police agents before harm was done, for they in their turn observed strict secrecy and were very cautious. Yet it can be said that, however well organised the tsarist police were and however well informed they may have been, our relations with Party organisations and, in particular, with the Central Committee were concealed by an efficient technique of conspiracy.

Correspondence and communications through third persons did not, however, enable us to discuss details of our plan of work or to deal fully with questions of our activity both inside and outside the Duma. More direct contact was required to use the experience and to learn the opinions of the workers' deputies, around whom Party work within Russia was centred, the more so since the convocation of regular Party congresses in illegal conditions presented enormous difficulties.

As I have already mentioned, the calling of a conference of the Central Committee and the Bolshevik deputies somewhere abroad had been mooted before the opening of the Duma. It was proposed that this conference should outline a plan on which the whole of the activity of the Duma fraction should be based. But the conference had a much wider importance, it had to deal also with the tasks of the Bolsheviks in the new period of growing revolutionary activity among the workers and with the consequent developments within the Social-Democratic Party. As the result of its deliberations and decisions, it became one of the outstanding events in the history of our Party and of the revolutionary struggle.

The convocation of the conference, which was to be held at Cracow in Galicia, coincided with the Christmas recess of the Duma. The Bolshevik deputies were unable to leave St. Petersburg at once owing to the strike and lock-out at Maxwell's factories. Only after the strikers' maintenance funds had been organised and all workers' organisations mobilised to help, were we able to go to Cracow.

The Cracow Conference sat from December 28, 1912, to January 1, 1913. For purposes of camouflage it was called the February Conference and figured as such in the press and in Party literature. Lenin was in the chair and in addition to the deputies the following were present: Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, G. Zinoviev, A. Troyanovsky, Valentina Nikolayevna Lobova, E. Rozmirovich and a few other comrades, delegates from big working-class centres. Of the deputies, Petrovsky, Malinovsky, Shagov and myself were present.

A year had passed since the Prague Conference, January 1912. That year had been one of powerful development of the revolutionary movement, which found its expression in the growth of political and economic strikes, in mass demonstrations, in the creation and consolidation of the workers' press, etc. Big developments had also occurred within the Party during this period; a sharp cleavage between the two sections of the Social-Democratic Party and an acute struggle between us and the Mensheviks. Liquidationist tendencies, clearly indicated in speeches and articles, were dominant among the Mensheviks.

The division between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks was spreading throughout the whole labour movement and everywhere the revolutionary policy of the Bolsheviks was gaining ground. The elections to the State Duma, which had given us a decisive victory in the workers' electoral colleges, were most instructive in this respect. They demonstrated the enormous influence that the Bolsheviks exercised over the masses and that the working class was following the Bolshevik path in its revolutionary struggle.

The first month of the work of the Duma fraction showed that the workers' deputies were following a correct policy. At the same time, it became clear that the Mensheviks were conducting, and would in future continue to conduct, a stubborn struggle against the workers' deputies, who opposed their revolutionary tactics to those of the majority of the fraction. From the point of view of the interests of the working class the Mensheviks, in the first Duma session, contrived to commit many errors. These errors, harmful to the revolutionary movement, had to be definitely condemned.

These were the questions dealt with at the Cracow Conference. On these matters of great revolutionary importance, the conference had to give directions for the future activity of the Party. After several days' work, a number of decisions were taken which solved many practical problems, gave an estimate of the political situation in Russia and defined the policy of the working class.

The Cracow Conference, recognising the extreme importance of unity, emphasised that unity was possible only subject to the condition that the secret illegal organisation was acknowledged. The reunion must take place "from below – in the shop committees, district groups, etc. – with the workers themselves checking in fact whether the illegal organisation is being recognised and whether the revolutionary struggle is being readily supported and revolutionary tactics adopted."

This resolution stressed once again the breach between us and the Mensheviks and the necessity for a persistent struggle against the corrupting influence of the Liquidators on the workers. Another resolution stated: "The only true type of organisation in the present period is an illegal Party composed of nuclei each surrounded by a network of legal and semi-legal societies. The illegal nuclei must be organisationally adapted to the local everyday conditions." The chief task was stated to be the setting up at factories and works of illegal Party Committees with one leading organisation at each centre.

The conference recognised that the best type of organisation was that which prevailed at St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg Committee was composed of delegates elected by the districts and of co-opted members, which resulted in a very flexible organisation, in close touch with the nuclei, and at the same time well concealed from the secret police. It was also recommended that regional centres should be organised and contact maintained with the local groups on the one hand and the Central Committee on the other by a system of delegates. The resolution on organisation established a harmonious system firmly welded from the bottom to the top.

One of the crucial questions at the conference was the report of our Duma fraction. The work of the fraction was subjected to careful and minute discussion. During the first month of the Duma, the fraction had had to take a number of decisions on important matters. The admittance of Jagello to the fraction, the declaration and the first interpellations were points which enabled the conference to judge the activity of the Duma fraction and to note the mistakes committed by the Menshevik majority.

1. The conference notes that, in spite of unparalleled persecutions and governmental interference in the elections, in spite of the Black-Hundred-Liberal bloc against the Social Democrats, which was definitely formed in many districts, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party achieved great victories in the elections to the Fourth Duma. Nearly everywhere there was an increase in the number of votes received by the Social Democrats in the second city electoral colleges, which are being wrested from the hands of the Liberals. In the workers' electoral colleges, which are the most important for our party, the R.S.D.L.P. enjoys undivided rule. By electing only Bolsheviks as deputies from the workers'" electoral colleges, the working class has unanimously declared its unswerving loyalty to the old Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party and its revolutionary traditions.

2. The conference welcomes the energetic work of the Social-Democratic deputies in the Fourth Duma as expressed in the introduction of interpellations and in the declaration which, in the main, defined correctly the basic principles of Social Democracy.

3. Recognising, in accordance with Party tradition, that the only correct policy is for the Duma Social-Democratic fraction to be subordinated to the Party as a whole, as represented by its central organisations, the conference considers that, in the interests of the political education of the working class and to ensure the maintenance of a correct Party policy, it is necessary to follow every step of the fraction and thus establish Party control over its work.

The conference resolutely condemned various actions of the Mensheviks which were not in accordance with the general policy of the Party. By accepting Jagello into the fraction, thereby indirectly approving the secessionist activity of the Bund, the Mensheviks, in the opinion of the conference, accentuated the split among the Polish workers and delayed the achievement of the unity of the entire Party. In the course of a Duma speech, A. I. Chkhenkeli, a Menshevik, under the pretext of "creating the necessary institutions for the free development of each nationality," spoke in favour of organisationally distinct national Social-Democratic parties within Russia. The conference strongly condemned this speech, which was delivered in the name of the fraction, as a direct violation of the Party programme. "Concessions to nationalist tendencies, even in such a disguised fashion, are inadmissible in a proletarian party." Finally, the fraction, the conference pointed out, had neglected its duties by voting for the Progressive motion on the ministerial declaration instead of submitting its own.

Although the resolution on the Duma Social-Democratic fraction contained nine points, only six were published in the Party press because the other three dealt with matters which it was inadvisable to make public. Owing to the loss of all documents referring to the Cracow Conference, these three points have not yet been reproduced, and it would be very difficult to quote them from memory after a lapse of fifteen years. They referred to the work outside the Duma of the Bolshevik "six" to whom the conference delegated many important tasks in connection with illegal Party work. The conference also dealt with the question of co-opting the Bolshevik deputies on to the Central Committee.

During our stay in Cracow, the work of the "six" was discussed in general and in detail in our conversations with Lenin and other members of our foreign centre.

The workers' deputies, said V. I. Lenin, must use the Duma for agitation and help to develop the revolutionary movement by exposing both the tsarist government and the hypocrisy of the so-called liberal parties. The workers' deputies must be heard by the entire working class of Russia. But activity in the Duma was only a part of the work of the fraction; as an integral part of the Party the Bolshevik "six" must take part in the vast work to be done outside of the Duma. The organisation and guidance of Party groups and activity in the Party press and in the trade unions were among the important duties of the workers' deputies and demanded from them continual work and effort.

The workers' deputies must remain in touch with the masses and all working-class organisations, legal and illegal, must regard the Duma Bolsheviks as the leaders and organisers of the revolutionary struggle. Lenin constantly stressed these points in conversation with us.

On the recommendation of Comrade Lenin himself I was charged with the duty of publishing Pravda. Lenin told me that being the deputy for St. Petersburg, the representative of the St. Petersburg workers, I must take on that task. Pravda pursued not only educational and propagandist aims, but it was also the most important centre for organisation. He emphasised the point that my duty was to work there.

We returned from Cracow armed with concrete practical instructions. The general policy to be followed by the "six" was clearly outlined and also the details as to who was to speak on various questions, the material that should be prepared, the immediate work to be done outside the Duma, etc. Coming, as we did, from an extremely complicated and hostile environment, this direct exchange of ideas with the leading members of the Party and above all with Lenin was of the utmost importance for us.

Lenin approached each deputy individually and succeeded in reinforcing in each of us the will to conduct an intense and sustained struggle. On the other hand, our participation in the work of the conference played a considerable part in determining the decisions reached. We were thoroughly acquainted with the sentiments of the masses and our contributions to the discussions enabled the conference to grasp the attitude of the workers and to draw the necessary conclusions.

On their return from Cracow, all the workers' deputies, taking advantage of the Duma recess, toured the constituencies from which they were elected. These journeys were undertaken in order to give an account of the first Duma session and to increase the activity of the local illegal nuclei, thus carrying out the decisions of the Cracow Conference.

Such tours, which were undertaken between the Duma sessions and sometimes in the middle of a session, did much to stir up the activity of the local working-class movement. The deputies established new Party contacts and renewed old ones, organised new Party nuclei and did a great deal of agitation and propaganda, at the same time receiving recommendations and instructions from the workers of their district. An instruction which was given to all the Social-Democratic deputies was that they should visit their districts as often as possible and keep generally in close contact with their constituencies.

It must be admitted that the workers' deputies did this. Each one of us received daily a large volume of correspondence, which supplied detailed information of what was taking place and in which various recommendations and demands were expressed. All this served as material for our Duma work, was worked up and summarised in questions to the government and dealt with in our speeches on government bills, etc.

Still more material was gathered on the personal trips of the deputies, which were a continual source of anxiety for the tsarist secret police. The police were unable to prevent the deputies from making these tours, since parliamentary immunity still existed for the workers' deputies, but they seized the occasion to watch all those whom the deputies consulted. Before the Duma session terminated, the police department used to send orders to all governors and heads of secret police departments to watch carefully for the arrival of the revolutionary deputies "into the provinces entrusted to their care." Our distinguishing characteristics were enumerated and our photographs attached. Then at the railway station, the workers' deputy would be met by an escort of "pea-coloured overcoats" (as the spies were called) and shadowed wherever he went.

To make doubly sure that the deputy should not be lost sight of, the St. Petersburg secret police would often arrange for one of its men to accompany the deputy to his destination until the local spies took up their work. The St. Petersburg spy delivered the deputy to the provincial spy against a receipt, as if he were handing over some inanimate object. Nevertheless we often caused some confusion by escaping their notice "in an unknown direction." The police could not always discover when we were leaving and, needless to say, we endeavoured to do so secretly, going to the station from anywhere but where we lived.

In this case the police reprimanded the house porters and door-keepers for not letting them know of our departure, while the porters protested in self-justification that the deputies had not informed them of their departure, had not presented passports to be endorsed and had not fulfilled other formalities.

The shadowing of workers' deputies was so persistent and open that members of our fraction sometimes lost their patience and wired to the minister demanding that they should be left in peace. It was never stopped on that account, the only result of the complaint being that the spies were exhorted to carry out their work more efficiently and to try "not to irritate" the deputies. On the other hand the local authorities, following the instructions of the police department, made use of every pretext to cut short the deputy's tour "on legal grounds" or if luck favoured them to find material for his prosecution.

I believe it was to Comrade Muranov that the following incident occurred whilst he was in one of the Volga towns. He was in his apartment when the police arrived, arrested the landlord and then started to search the house. Muranov's case was lying on the table, and when a police officer wanted to open it he protested, stating that he was a deputy, and produced his documents from the case. The officer was forced to retire, but later his superiors reprimanded him severely. He was told that so long as Muranov had not produced his papers, which were in the case lying some distance from him, the officer conducting the search should not have "believed" that Muranov was a deputy and therefore should not have allowed him to approach the case "which might have belonged to some other person." Then he should have seized the occasion to examine the contents of the case in the hopes of finding some evidence which might serve for a charge against the deputy, or, perhaps, against the whole Social-Democratic fraction.

Not daring to attack us openly because of their fear of revolutionary outbreaks of protest, the police confined themselves to strict surveillance of our movements. On the other hand, all those who had even the remotest relations with the workers' deputies were subjected to cruel persecution. The position of a workers' deputy was an exceptionally hard one; the least carelessness on his part was liable to cause, not only the imprisonment of individual comrades, but also the destruction of whole organisations. Therefore when setting out on our provincial tours (and more so in St. Petersburg itself) we acted as secretly as possible and tried to avoid the spies who were shadowing us. In the small provincial towns where all comings and goings can be clearly observed and where the arrival of a member of the State Duma was an important event, it was by no means easy to preserve secrecy. Yet the members of our fraction worked hard in the provinces and greatly strengthened the activity of local legal and illegal organisations. The tours of the workers' deputies usually resulted in a development of the strike movement, in the creation of new party nuclei, in an increase of subscribers to Pravda and generally in the intensification of revolutionary activity.

On their return from the first trip to the provinces in January 1913, all the workers' deputies remarked on the great growth of revolutionary feeling among the workers. The period of apathy, typical of the preceding years of reaction, was finally left behind. Throughout the working class there was evident a will to struggle, a striving for organised action and a lively interest in the political life of the country.

My comrades of the fraction were unable to give their reports at big legal meetings – all such meetings were invariably prohibited by the governors; they had to speak illegally or organise short meetings at factories without police authorisation.

On the whole, the workers approved of the first month's work in the Duma. They noted with satisfaction that our declaration contained the "unabridged" demands of the working class; the speeches made on the occasion of our first interpellation were also endorsed. The workers asked many questions about the Duma and were very interested in the details of Duma work. They were also curious about the enemy camp, the Black Hundred "die-hards," of whom Purishkevich and Markov had acquired special notoriety.

The general attitude to the Duma, however, was clear and definite: the workers expected no ameliorations from it; they fully realised that the proletariat could only obtain satisfaction by a persistent revolutionary struggle. During their journeys, the Bolshevik members were able to verify the correctness of the decisions of the Cracow Conference in regard to Liquidationist tendencies and Party unity. The Liquidationist tendency, which arose among and was chiefly supported by the intellectual publicists, was completely foreign to the workers and was altogether absent from many districts. Consequently in many Social- Democratic groups, the acute controversy waged between Pravda and Luch was not understood. It was apparent that to achieve unity, it was not diplomatic negotiations at the top that were necessary but the participation of all members of the local nuclei in underground activities and the cessation of struggle against such activities. By this means Party unity would become a fact.

This opinion fully corresponded to the policy laid down by the Cracow Conference.

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