This article written by Lenin in 1912, has a great deal of significance for revolutionary Marxist-Leninists who are studying the current situation in Greece, and analyzing its recent election results. The emphasis is inserted by myself.
-Caleb T. Maupin
Wilson, a “Democrat”, has been elected President of the United States
of America. He has polled over six million votes, Roosevelt (the new
National Progressive Party) over four million, Taft (Republican Party) over
three million, and the Socialist Eugene Debs 800,000 votes.
The world significance of the U.S. elections lies not so much in the
great increase in the number of Socialist votes as in the far-reaching
crisis of the bourgeois parties, in the amazing force
with which their decay has been revealed. Lastly, the significance of the
elections lies in the unusually clear and striking revelation of
bourgeois reformism as a means of combating socialism.
In all bourgeois countries, the parties which stand for
capitalism, i.e., the bourgeois parties, came into being a long time ago,
and the greater the extent of political liberty, the more solid they are.
freedom in the U.S.A. is most complete. And for a whole
half-century—since the Civil War over slavery in
1860–65—two bourgeois parties have been distinguished there by
remarkable solidity and strength. The party of the former slave-owners is
the so-called Democratic Party. The capitalist party, which favoured the
emancipation of the Negroes, has developed into the Republican Party.
Since the emancipation of the Negroes, the distinction between the two
parties has been diminishing. The fight between these two parties has been
mainly over the height of customs duties. Their fight has not had
any serious importance for the mass of the people. The people have
been deceived and diverted from their vital interests by means of spectacular meaningless duel between two bourgeois parties.
This so-called bipartisan system prevailing in America and Britain has
been one of the most powerful means of preventing the rise of an
independent working-class, i.e., genuinely socialist, party and now the bipartisan system has suffered a fiasco in America, the
country boasting the most advanced capitalism! What caused this fiasco?
The strength of the working-class movement, the growth of socialism.
The old bourgeois parties (the “Democratic” and the “Republican”
parties) have been facing towards the past, the period of the emancipation
of the Negroes. The new bourgeois party, the National Progressive Party, is
facing to wards the future. Its programme turns entirely on the
question whether capitalism is to be or not to be, on the issues, to he
specific, of protection for the workers and of “trusts”, as the
capitalist associations are called in the U.S.A.
The old parties are products of an epoch whose task was to develop
capitalism as speedily as possible. The struggle between the parties was
over the question how best to expedite and facilitate this development.
The new party is a product of the present epoch, which raises the issue
of the very existence of capitalism. In the U.S.A., the freest and most
advanced country, this issue is coming to the fore more clearly and broadly
than anywhere else.
The entire programme and entire agitation of Roosevelt and the
Progressives turn on how to save capitalism by means of
The bourgeois reformism which in old Europe manifests itself in the
chatter of liberal professors has all at once come forward in the free
American republic as a party four million strong. This is American style.
We shall save capitalism by reforms, says that party. We shall grant
the most progressive factory legislation. We shall establish state control
over all the trusts (in the U.S.A. that means over all
industries!). We shall establish state control over them to eliminate
poverty and enable everybody to earn a “decent” wage. We shall establish
“social and industrial justice”. We revere all reforms—the
only “reform” we don’t want is expropriation of the
The national wealth of the U.S.A. is now reckoned to be 120 billion
(thousand million) dollars, i.e., about 240 billion rubles. Approximately
one-third of it, or about 80 billion rubles, belongs to
two trusts, those of Rockefeller and Morgan, or is subordinated to
these trusts! Not more than. 40,000 families making up these two trusts are
the masters of 80 million wage slaves.
Obviously, so long as these modern slave-owners are there, all
“reforms” will be nothing but a deception. Roosevelt has been
deliberately hired by the astute multimillionaires to preach this
deception. The “state control” they promise will become—if the
capitalists keep their capital—a means of combating and crushing strikes.
But the American proletarian has already awakened and has taken up his
post. He greets Roosevelt’s success with cheerful irony, as if to say: You
lured four million people with your promises of reform, dear impostor
Roosevelt. Very well! Tomorrow those four million will see that your
promises were a fraud, and don’t forget that they are following you
only because they feel that it is impossible to go on
living in the old way.