Stolypin Peter Arkadievich (was born 2.4.1862, in Dresden, Germany, has died 5.9.1911, in Kiev), the Russian statesman. He has graduated from the Petersburg University and since 1884 served in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 1902 he was appointed the governor of Grodno city, in 1903-1906 the governor of the Saratov province.
The assassination of the arch-hangman Stolypin occurred at a time when a number of symptoms indicated that the first period in the history of the Russian counter-revolution was coming to an end. That is why the event of September 1, quite insignificant in itself, again raises the extremely important question of the content and meaning of the counter-revolution in Russia. One discerns notes of a really serious and principled attitude amid the chorus of reactionaries who are servilely singing the praises of Stolypin, or are rummaging in the history of the intrigues of the Black-Hundred gang which is lording it over Russia, and amid the chorus of the liberals who are shaking their heads over the "wild and insane" shot (it goes without saying that included among the liberals are the former Social-Democrats of Dyelo Zhizni who used the hackneyed expression quoted above). Attempts are being made to view "the Stolypin period" of Russian history as a definite entity.
Stolypin was the head of the counter-revolutionary government for about five years, from 1906 to 1911. This was indeed a unique period crowded with instructive events. Externally, it may be described as the period of preparation for and accomplishment of the coup d'etat of June 3, 1907. The preparation for this coup, which has already shown its results in all spheres of our social life, began in the summer of 1906, when Stolypin addressed the First Duma in his capacity as Minister of the Interior. The question is, on what social forces did the men who staged the coup rely, or what forces prompted them? What was the social and economic content of the period ushered in on June 3? Stolypin's personal "career" provides instructive material and interesting examples bearing on this question.
A landowner and Marshal of the Nobility, he was appointed governor in 1902, under Plehve, gained "fame" in the eyes of the tsar and the reactionary court clique by his brutal reprisals against the peasants and the cruel punishment he inflicted upon them (in Saratov Gubernia), organised Black-Hundred gangs and pogroms in 1905 (the pogrom in Balashov), became Minister of the Interior in 1906 and Chairman of the Council of Ministers after the dissolution of the First Duma. That, in very brief outline, is Stolypin's political biography. The biography of the head of the counter-revolutionary government is at the same time the biography of the class which carried out the counter-revolution -- Stolypin was nothing more than an agent or clerk in its employ. This class is the Russian landed nobility with Nicholas Romanov, the first nobleman and biggest landowner, at their head. It is made up of the thirty thousand feudal landowners who control seventy million dessiatines of land in European Russia - that is to say, as much land as is owned by ten million peasant households. The latifundia owned by this class form a basis for feudal exaction which, in various forms and under various names (labour-service, bondage, etc.) still reigns in the traditionally Russian central provinces. The "land hunger" of the Russian peasant (to use a favourite expression of the liberals and Narodniks) is nothing but the reverse side of the over-abundance of land in the hands of this class. The agrarian question, the central issue in our 1905 Revolution, was one of whether landed proprietorship would remain intact - in which case the poverty-stricken, wretched, starving, browbeaten and downtrodden peasantry would for many years to come inevitably remain as the bulk of the population - or whether the bulk of the population would succeed in winning for themselves more or less human conditions, conditions even slightly resembling the civil liberties of the European countries. This, however, could not be accomplished unless landed proprietorship and the landowner monarchy inseparably bound up with it were abolished by a revolution.
Stolypin's political biography is the faithful reflection and expression of the conditions facing the tsarist monarchy. Stolypin could only act as he did in the situation in which the revolution placed the monarchy. The monarchy could not act in any other way when it became quite clear - became clear in actual practice both prior to the Duma, in 1905, and at the time of the Duma, in 1906 - that the vast, the overwhelming majority of the population had already realised that its interests could not be reconciled with the preservation of the landowning class, and was striving to abolish that class. Nothing could be more superficial and more false than the assertions of the Cadet writers that the attacks upon the monarchy in our country were merely the expression of "intellectual" revolutionism. On the contrary, the objective conditions were such that it was the struggle of the peasants against landed proprietorship that inevitably posed the question of whether our landowning monarchy was to live or die. Tsarism was compelled to wage a life-and-death struggle, it was compelled to seek other means of defence in addition to the utterly impotent bureaucracy and the army which had been weakened as a result of military defeat and internal disintegration. All that the tsarist monarchy could do under the circumstances was to organise the Black-Hundred elements of the population and to perpetrate pogroms. The high moral indignation with which our liberals speak of the pogroms gives every revolutionary an impression of something abominably wretched and cowardly, particularly as this high moral condemnation of pogroms has proved to be fully compatible with the idea of conducting negotiations and concluding agreements with the pogromists. The monarchy had to defend itself against the revolution, and the semi-Asiatic, feudal Russian monarchy of the Romanovs could only defend itself by the most infamous, most disgusting, vile and cruel means. The only honourable way of fighting the pogroms, the only rational way from the point of view of a socialist and a democrat, is not to express high moral condemnation, but to assist the revolution selflessly and in every way, to organise the revolution to overthrow this monarchy.
Under Stolypin the dictatorship of the feudal landowner was not directed against the whole nation, including the entire "third estate", the entire bourgeoisie. On the contrary, the dictatorship was exercised under conditions most favourable for it when the Octobrist bourgeoisie served it with heart and soul, when the landowners and the bourgeoisie had a representative body in which their bloc was guaranteed a majority, and an opportunity was provided for conducting negotiations and coming to an agreement with the Crown, when Mr. Struve and the other Vekhi writers reviled the revolution in a hysterical frenzy and propounded an ideology which gladdened the heart of Anthony, Bishop of Volhynia, and when Mr. Milyukov proclaimed that the Cadet opposition was "His Majesty's Opposition" (His Majesty being a feudal relic).
Stolypin disappeared from the scene at the very moment when the Black-Hundred monarchy had taken everything that could be of use to it from the counter-revolutionary sentiments of the whole Russian bourgeoisie. Stolypin helped the Russian people to learn a useful lesson: either march to freedom by overthrowing the tsarist monarchy, under the leadership of the proletariat; or sink deeper into slavery and submit to the Purishkeviches, Markovs and Tolmachovs, under the ideological and political leadership of the Milyukovs and Guchkovs.