National Geographic : 1907 May
THE REVOLUT The principal parties were, first, the Octoberists, so called because they were elected upon pledges to support the mani festo issued by Nicholas II in October, 1905, in which he promised his people a constitution, a parliament, free religion, free speech, and all that is meant by civil and political liberty. This party was com posed chiefly of business and professional men from the great cities, land-owners, and men of large affairs. Their numbers were limited, and they came nearer than any other class to support the govern ment. Stolypin, the present Prime Minis ter, was one of the leaders of the October ist party. His brother is still the secre tary of its executive committee and one of the editors of its newspaper organ. Generally speaking, the Octoberists ad vocated a limited monarchy similar to Germany, and a broad, liberal system of education. They demanded a reorganiza tion of the entire government, the reform of the judiciary, and almost universal suf frage. The Constitutional Democrats in their platform demanded all this and more, in cluding a ministry responsible to the par liament rather than to the Czar. They would be satisfied with a government like that of Great Britain. The Constitutional Democrats con trolled the douma because they had a ma jority of its members, and if they had adopted a rational and practical program and carried it through, they would have accomplished great things for Russia; but, from the beginning, they committed blunder after blunder and threw away every one of the many golden opportuni ties that were offered them. They should have shown some gratitude to the Czar for the constitution he had given then and for other concessions he had made, and encouraged him to make more; but, instead of adopting a conciliatory policy, they bullied his ministers and accused him of insincerity. In order to avoid contro versies among themselves they made con cessions to the socialists and revolution ists and allowed the most radical mem bers of those parties to control the pro- ION IN RUSSIA 307 ceedings of the douma. Their generosity was suicidal. They seemed to think that they must present a solid front to the autocracy. They sacrificed everything for the sake of unanimity and loaded down their program with wild and im practicable propositions. It was a pitiful display of incapacity. When the leaders were criticised for yielding to the radicals, they would explain that the fundamental principles of their doctrine was freedom of thought and freedom of speech, and what right had they to object to the opin ions of a fellow-being? No such Utopian policy was ever known in a legislative body before. No such generosity was ever extended before by one political party to another, and it not only impaired the usefulness of the "Cadets," as the Constitutional Democrats were called, for short, but proved their destruction. The Social Democrats were next in numbers, and their platform was purely socialistic, based upon the theory that dif ferences in wealth and station are wrong, and that all authority and all law are vio lations of the rights of man. They want a republic in Russia. So do the Social Revolutionists, who would accomplish the same thing by violence and are respon sible for the bomb-throwing, the assassi nations, the mutinies, the destruction of property valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, and other crimes against indi viduals and society in carrying on their propaganda. The members of this party defy all law; they trample upon all rights. They are vindictive, cruel, and merciless. They are anarchists, nihilists, and terror ists, but are always willing to die with their victims. The nerve and stolidity of the Russian revolutionists were never sur passed by any human beings. They do not seem to have the slightest fear of death and are utterly indifferent to dan ger. Their boldness is amazing. Very few bomb-throwers have escaped alive, and no member of the fighting group of the Social Revolutionist party has broken down or even faltered in the presence of the hangman.