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V. I. Lenin
Proletary, No. 40
December 1 (14), 1908
Signed: N. L.
Published according
to the text inPr ol eta ry
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1963
Vol. 15, pp. 303-17.
Translated from the Russian
Edited by Andrew Rothstein and Bernard Isaacs
Prepared \u00a9 for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,d jr@ma rx2 ma o .o rg (October 2001)
page 303

Nearly a month of agrarian debates in the Third Duma has provided exceptionally
valuable material for the study of the present state of the agrarian question, the lessons of
the revolution and the tasks of the proletariat. We shall try and draw the main conclusions
from this material. The speakers fall of themselves into four groups -- the Rights, the
Cadets, the peasants and the Social-Democrats. The differences between the "Right" in
the narrow sense of the word and the Octobrists completely fade out. The peasants
unquestionably act as a single political tendency on the agrarian question, the difference
between the Right-wing peasants and the Trudoviks being only a distinction of shadings
within a single tendency. Let us analyse the position which each of these groups took up.
(The figures in brackets refer to the pages of the verbatim reports in the supplement to


As could have been expected of Black-Hundred "parliamentarians", the Rights and the
Octobrists tried to cover up the substance of their agrarian policy with the litter of
juridical casuistry and archive rubbish, holding forth on the relations between the law of
November 9, 1906, and Article 12 of the General Statute on the Peasantry (granting the
peasants, after redemption, the right to demand a separate piece of land as their private
property), then on Article 165 of the Statute of Land Purchase, etc. Posing as a "liberal",
Shidlovsky tried to prove that the legislation of Count D. Tolstoy on inalienability of
allotments, etc., contradicted the "spirit" of 1861, whereas the law of November 9, 1906,
corresponded to that spirit. All this

page 304

was sheer humbug, calculated to throw dust into the eyes of the peasantry and obscure the
real issue. To a considerable extent the Cadets, as we shall see later, rose to the bait of the
Black Hundreds; but for us socialists it is sufficient to point out in a few words what a
thick layer of bureaucratic dust must be brushed off the speeches of the Shidlovskys, the
Lykoshins and other lackeys of the Black-Hundred tsarist gang to see the real content of
their agrarian policy. Mr. Lvov the First, who, we believe, calls himself a Peaceful
Renovator, but who in fact is a real Black Hundreder with the manners and graces of a
Mr. Struve, expressed this content more clearly than others. "Among the peasantry," said
this servant of the landlords, "two elements have emerged: the helpless individual and the
lawless mob (applause from the Right and the Centre ). . . . Such a condition of the
masses is a menace to the lawful [meaning, landlords'] state (applause from the Right and

the Centre ). . . . The land must belong to all who toil, the land like the air and water; we

have come here to get land and freedom." This was the dominating voice. And this voice,
snatched directly from those superstitions and prejudices which are rooted in the peasant
mass, this voice pointed out to us that superstitious conception of authority which can
take from some and give to others. . . . "Let us recall what was said in this building
[continued Mr. Lvov remembering previous Dumas]. It is painful for me to recall this,
but I will say, I cannot but say, what was discussed in the agrarian commission. Yes,
when even the question of leaving at least vegetable allotments or orchards inviolate met
with the strongest opposition, met the most violent resistance, and was carried only by the
smallest majority; when it was suggested that all land transactions should be stopped, not
only mortgages in the Bank of the Nobility, not only sales to the Peasant Bank, but
buying and selling land itself, even gifts and inheritance of land -- then obviously one
trembled, gentlemen, trembled not for the interests of the landlord, but trembled for the
condition and the destiny of the state (applause of the Centre and the Right. Exclamation:

" Bravo! "). On such a foundation it is impossible to build a capitalist, a modern state"
page 305

The landlord state "trembled" for its existence, "trembled" at the "voice" (and
movement) of the peasant masses. These gentlemen cannot even imagine any capitalism
that is not based on the preservation of landlordism, i.e., feudalist landownership. The

"educated" Lvovs have not even heard that capitalism develops most widely, freely and
rapidly when all private property in land is completely abolished!

For agitation among the masses, the study of extracts from the speeches of Shidlovsky,
Bobrinsky, Lvov, Golitsyn, Kapustin and Co. is absolutely necessary. Up till now we
have seen the autocracy almost exclusively when it was giving orders, and sometimes,
rarely, publishing statements in the spirit of Ugryum-Burcheyev.[122] Now we have the
open defence of the landlord monarchy and the Black Hundred "constitution" by the
organised representatives of the ruling classes, and this defence provides very valuable
material for the awakening of those sections of the people who are politically
unconscious or indifferent. Let us briefly note two particularly important circumstances.
In the first place, when setting out their political programme, the Right constantly bring
forward to their audience the living enemy against whom they are fighting. This enemy is
the revolution. "Fear" of the revolution, which was so clearly expressed by the stupid
Lvov, is no less clearly manifest inall who at every step recall the recent past with
hatred, anger, and grinding of teeth. This direct posing ofall questions on the basis of

counter-revolution, this subordination of all arguments to one principal and root

argument, the struggle against revolution, contains within itself a profound truth. And it
makes the speeches of the Right incomparably more valuable material, both for the
scientific analysis of the present situation and for purposes of agitation, than the speeches
of the half-hearted and cowardly liberals. The unrestrained fury with which the Right
attack the revolution, the end of 1905, the risings, the first two Dumas, shows better than
any long speeches that the protectors of the autocracy see before them ali vi ng enemy,
that they do not consider the struggle with the revolution ended, that the revival of the
revolution looms before them every minute as a very real and immediate

page 306

threat. You don't fight a dead enemy in this way. You don't hate a dead enemy like this.
The simple-minded Mr. Balakleyev na\u00efvely expressed this common spirit of all the
speeches of the Right. Saying that of course the ukase of November 9 could not he
rejected, since it expressed the royal will, he declared at the same time: "Gentlemen of
the Imperial Duma! We are living at a time of revolution which, in my profound
conviction, has far from ended yet" (364). Mr. Balakleyev fears the "revolutionary
origin" of the law of November 9; he is afraid it may inflame a new struggle. "We are
going through a painful crisis," he said, "and how it will end no one knows. Imagination
draws the most sombre pictures, but our duty is not to support sedition and discord
among the people."

The second, very important, circumstance refers to the economic, and particularly the agrarian, programme of the Right. This is their defence of the private property in land of thepeasant s, a defence which is the keynote of all their speeches, including that of the arch-priest Mitrofanushka (Bishop Mitrofan), who spoke immediately after the reporter, evidently seeking to frighten the democratic but downtrodden village priests. Comically trying to over come in himself the habit of playing the religious simpleton and of using the language of the seminary ("the village commune is a primordial phenomenon"), he

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