Severnaya Pravda No. 27,
Published according to
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1968
First printing 1963
Second printing 1968
Translated from the Russian by George Hanna
Edited by Robert Daglish
On Sunday, September 7 (August 25, O. S.), exactly a week after the police massacre, the Dublin workers organised a huge meeting to protest against the conduct of the Irish capitalists and the Irish police.
The meeting took place in the same street (O'Connell Street) and at the same spot where the meeting banned by the police was to have taken place the previous Sunday. It is a historic spot, a spot where it is most convenient to organise meetings and where they are most frequently held
The police kept out of sight. The streets were filled with workers. There were crowds of people, but complete order prevailed. "Last Sunday," exclaimed an Irish speaker, "the police truncheon reigned here without reason; today reason reigns without the police truncheon."
Britain has a constitution -- and the authorities did not dare to bring their drunken policemen into action for the second time. Three platforms were put up and six speakers, including representatives of the English proletariat, condemned the crime perpetrated against the people, called upon the workers to display international solidarity, to wage a common struggle.
A resolution was unanimously adopted demanding freedom of assembly and association, and calling for an immediate investigation -- under the direction of independent persons and with a guarantee of publicity for all the proceedings -- of the conduct of the police the previous Sunday.
In London a magnificent meeting was held in Trafalgar Square. Groups of socialists and workers came with their banners. There were many posters with cartoons and
slogans on topical events. The crowd particularly applauded a poster depicting a policeman waving a red flag with the inscription, "Silence!"
Outstanding speeches were made by Ben Tillett, who showed that the "Liberal" government of Britain is no better than a reactionary one, and Partridge, Dublin Secretary of the Engineers' Union, who described in detail the shameless acts of police violence in Dublin.
It is instructive to note that the principal slogan at the London and Dublin meetings was the demand for freedom of association. This is quite understandable. Britain has the foundations of political liberty, has a constitutional regime, generally speaking. The freedom of association demanded by the workers is one of the reforms absolutely necessary and quite achievable under the present constitutional regime (just as achievable as, say, the partial reform of workers' insurance in Russia).
Freedom of association is equally indispensable to the workers of Britain and of Russia. And the British workers quite rightly advance this slogan of a political reform essential to them, perfectly well aware of the path to be followed for its achievement and of its complete feasibility under the British Constitution (just as the Russian workers would be right in advancing the partial demand for amendments to the Insurance Act).
In Russia, however, precisely those general foundations of political liberty are absent without which the demand for freedom of association is simply ridiculous and is merely a current liberal phrase designed to deceive the people by suggesting that the path of reform is possible in our country. In Russia the fight for freedom of association -- freedom most urgently needed by both the workers and the entire people -- cannot be conducted without contrasting the impotent and false reformism of the liberals with the consistent democracy of the workers, who have no reformist illusions.