July 7, 2018

Argue About Tactics, But Give Clear Slogans!

Proletary, No. 18, September 26 (13), 1905

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 9

The argument about the tactics in respect of the State Duma is becoming more and more heated. The differences between Iskra and Proletary are becoming ever deeper, especially since Parvus’s article in Iskra.

Tactics must be debated, but in this the utmost clarity must be striven for. Questions of tactics are questions of the Party’s political conduct. A line of conduct can and should be grounded in theory, in historical references, in an analysis of the entire political situation, etc. But in all these discussions the party of a class engaged in a struggle should never lose sight of the need for absolutely clear answers—which do not permit of a double interpretation—to concrete questions of our political conduct: “yes” or “no”? Should this or that be done right now, at the given moment, or should it not be done?

Such clear replies are essential to prevent differences from being exaggerated or confused, and also to make definitely known to the working class the specific kind of advice being offered it by this or that group of Social-Democrats at a given moment.

With a view to introducing complete clarity into our controversy with Iskra we have drawn up the following list of concrete questions concerning the political conduct of the Social-Democrats in the present Duma election campaign. We do not in the least claim that this list is complete, and would welcome suggestions for amending, changing, or subdividing any of the questions. It stands to reason that what is said here concerning election meetings applies to all meetings in general.

What is the Advice the Social-Democrats are Giving the Proletariat with Reference to the State Duma?

1. Should workers endeavour to gain entry to election meetings? 
Iskra:Yes 
Proletary: Yes

2. Should workers endeavour to gain entry to election meetings even by force? 
Iskra: Yes 
Proletary: Yes

3. Should we speak at such meetings about the uselessness of the Duma and explain all the aims and the entire programme of Social-Democracy? 
Iskra: Yes 
Proletary: Yes

4. Should the workers and the people as a whole be called upon at such meetings to rise up in arms and form a revolutionary army and a provisional revolutionary government? 
Iskra: ? 
Proletary: Yes

5. Should these slogans (point 4) be made the focus of our whole “Duma” campaign? 
Iskra: No 
Proletary: Yes

6. Should Osvobozhdeniye League members (or “Constitutional-Democrats”) entering the State Duma be denounced as bourgeois traitors who are pursuing a policy of “compromise” with the tsar
Iskra: No 
Proletary: Yes

7. Should we Social-Democrats tell the people that it would be preferable to elect to the State Duma the Petrunkeviches rather than the Stakhoviches, etc.? 
Iskra: Yes 
Proletary: No

8. Should we conclude any agreement whatever with the Osvobozhdeniye League on our support of the latter on the basis of certain conditions, demands, pledges, etc.? 
Iskra: Yes 
Proletary: No

9. Should we make the slogan of “revolutionary self-government” the central point of our agitation? 
Iskra: Yes 
Proletary: No

10. Should we call upon the people immediately to elect, on the basis of universal suffrage, bodies of revolutionary self-government and through these a constituent assembly? 
Iskra: Yes 
Proletary: No

11. Should we elect Social-Democratic election committees? Should we put up Social-Democratic candidates for the State Duma? 
Iskra: Yes 
Proletary: No