The Tsar Against the Finnish People

The Black-Hundred bandits of the Winter Palace and the Octobrist tricksters of the Third Duma have begun a new campaign against Finland. To do away with the constitution that, protects the rights of the Finns against the tyranny of the Russian autocrats, to put Finland on a par with the rest of Russia deprived of rights by the exceptional laws – such is the purpose of this crusade which has been inaugurated by the tsar’s ukase deciding the question of military service over the head of the Finnish Diet and by the appointment of new senators from Russian officialdom. It would be a waste of time to dwell on the arguments with which these bandits and tricksters are trying to prove the legality and justice of the demands which are presented to Finland under the threat of a million bayonets. The essence of the matter is not in these arguments but in the aim that as being pursued. In the person of free and democratic Finland the tsarist government and its associates want to efface the last trace of the popular gains of 1905. Hence the cause of the whole Russian people is at stake in these days when the Cossack regiments and artillery batteries are hastily occupying the urban centres of Finland.

The Russian revolution, supported by the Finns, compelled the tsar to relax the stranglehold which he had kept on the Finnish people for a number of years. The tsar, who wanted to extend his despotic power over Finland, to whose constitution his ancestors and he himself had taken the oath, was compelled to sanction not only the expulsion of Bobrikov’s executioners from Finnish soil and the repeal of his own unlawful ukases, but also the introduction of universal and equal suffrage in Finland. After crushing the Russian revolution the tsar is harking back to the past, but with the difference that he now feels behind him not only the sup port of the old guard, his hired spies and plunderers of the public purse, but also the support of the moneyed gang, headed by the Krupenskys and Guchkovs, which is operating jointly in the Third Duma in the name of the Russian people.

The bandits’ venture has everything in its favour. The revolutionary movement in Russia has been terribly enfeebled and the beast on the throne need have no concern on its account to distract him from his coveted prey. The West-European bourgeoisie, which had once petitioned the tsar to leave Finland in peace, will not lift a finger to halt the bandits. Only just recently it has been given assurances that the tsar’s intentions are honest and “constitutional” by the very people who, at that time, exhorted Europe to condemn the tsar’s policy in Finland. Calling themselves “representatives of the Russian intelligentsia” and “representatives of the Russian people”, the Cadet leaders have solemnly as sured the European bourgeoisie that they, and the Russian people with them, are at one with the tsar. The Russian liberals have done everything to ensure that Europe remains as indifferent to the new attacks of the two-headed ravager on Finland as it was to his excursions against free Persia.

Free Persia has rebuffed tsarism by her own efforts. The Finnish people – and the Finnish proletariat in the lead – are preparing a strong rebuff to the successors of Bobrikov.

The Finnish proletariat is aware that it will have to fight in extremely difficult conditions. It knows that the West-European bourgeoisie who are flirting with the autocracy will not interfere; that the moneyed section of Russian society, partly bribed by Stolypin’s policy, partly corrupted by the lies of the Cadets, will not lend Finland the moral support which she enjoyed prior to 1905; that the insolence of the Russian Government has grown beyond measure since it managed to strike a blow at the revolutionary army in Russia proper.

But the Finnish proletariat also knows that the outcome of a political struggle is not decided by a single engagement, that it sometimes entails long years of stubborn effort and the winner in the long run is the side which has the force of historical development behind it. The freedom of Finland will triumph because without it the freedom of Russia is inconceivable, while without the triumph of freedom in Russia the economic development of the latter is inconceivable.

The Finnish proletariat also knows from glorious experience how to wage a long, stubborn revolutionary struggle for freedom, designed to wear down, disorganise and discredit the vile enemy until circumstances permit the delivery of a decisive blow.

At the same time the proletariat of Finland knows that from the outset of its new struggle it will have on its side the socialist proletariat of all Russia, ready, however onerous the conditions of the contemporary moment, to do their duty, their whole duty.

The Social-Democratic group in the Diet has sent a deputation to the Social-Democratic group in the Third Duma in order jointly to discuss a plan of action against the coercionists. From the lofty tribune of the Puma our deputies will raise their voice, as they did last year, to brand the tsarist government and unmask its hypocritical allies in the Duma. Let then all the Social-Democratic organisations and all workers exert every effort so that the voice of our deputies in the Taurida Palace is not a cry in the wilderness, so that the enemies of Russian and Finnish liberty see that the whole Russian proletariat is one with the Finnish people. The duty of the comrades in each locality is to use every opportunity that presents itself to make manifest the attitude of the proletariat of Russia to the Finnish question. Beginning with appeals to the Russian and Finnish Social-Democratic groups, and proceeding to more active forms of protests, the Party will find ways enough to break the disgraceful conspiracy of silence in which the Russian counter-revolution is rending the body of the Finnish people.

The struggle in Finland is a struggle for the freedom of all Russia. Whatever bitter moments the new struggle will cost the heroic Finnish proletariat, it will bind with new ties of solidarity the working class of Finland and Russia, preparing them for the moment when they will be strong enough to finish what they began in the October days of 1905 and what they tried to continue in the glorious days of Kronstadt and Sveaborg.

Vladimir Lenin
Sotsial-Demokrat No. 9, October 31 (November 13), 1909