A Contradictory Stand
|Written||27 June 1917|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 88-90
The Congress resolution in today’s papers condemning our Party will no doubt be compared by every class-conscious worker and soldier with our Party’s statement addressed to the All-Russia Congress of Soviets, a statement made public on the 11th, and printed in today’s Pravda.
The contradictory nature of the stand taken by the Congress leaders has been revealed by their resolution and particularly by our statement.
“The basis for the success and strength of the Russian revolution is the unity of all revolutionary democrats—the workers, soldiers, and peasants," reads the first and cardinal clause of the Congress resolution. And, of course, this point would undoubtedly he correct if what it meant by “unity” were unity in the struggle against the counter-revolution . But what if through their leaders a certain number of the "workers, soldiers and peasants" form a bloc and units with the counter-revolution? Isn’t it clear that this section of the “democrats” is in reality no longer “revolutionary”?
The Narodniks (Socialist-Revolutionaries) and the Mensheviks will probably be indignant at the mere fact that we think it possible, that we think it conceivable, for any section of the "workers, soldiers and peasants" to “unite” with the counter-revolution.
To those who attempted to obscure our arguments and hush up the issue by indignation, we would reply by simply referring them to the third clause of the same resolution: ”... the resistance of the counter-revolutionary groups of the propertied classes is growing." This is an important statement. It would have been perfectly correct if it had said: the bourgeoisie, or capitalists, and landowners (instead of the "propertied classes", which include the well-to-do section of the petty bourgeoisie).
Unquestionably, the resistance of the bourgeoisie is growing.
But then it is the bourgeoisie that control the majority in the Provisional Government with whom the Socialist- Revolutionary and the Menshevik leaders have united, not only in general political terms, but also organisationally, in one institution, the Ministry!
This is the pivot of the contradictory stand taken by the leaders of the Congress, this is the fundamental source of the instability of their entire policy. They are allied with the bourgeoisie via the government, where they are controlled by the bourgeois Ministers forming the majority. At the same time, they are forced to admit that "the resistance of the counter-revolutionary groups of the propertied classes is growing"’
It is obvious that, under the circumstances, the party of the revolutionary proletariat can accept “unity” with the “revolutionary” democrats (revolutionary in word but not deed) only up to a certain point. We are for unity with them as long as they fight against the counter-revolution. We are against unity with them as long as they ally themselves with the counter-revolution.
The "growing resistance" of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie is an urgent problem posed by reality. To evade this main and fundamental issue through non-committal phrases about "the unity and co-ordinated actions of the revolutionary democrats", thereby glossing over the unity or co-ordination between a section of the revolutionary democrats and the counter-revolution, would be illogical and foolish.
Hence, all the arguments in the Congress resolution condemning our demonstration as “clandestine” and maintaining that mass actions and demonstrations are permissible only with the knowledge or consent of the Soviets, fall to the ground as a matter of principle. These arguments are of no consequence at all. The workers’ party will never accept them, as we have already said in our statement to the All-Russia Congress. For every demonstration is merely a means of agitation as long as it is peaceful, and you can neither ban agitation not impose uniformity on it.
On the formal side, the resolution is even weaker. To ban or decree you must be vested with state power. First achieve that, you gentlemen who now lead the Congress—we are in favour of it, although you are our opponents—and then you will have the right to ban or decree. At the moment you do not wield state power, at the moment you allow your selves to be swayed by the ten bourgeois Ministers—you are caught in the meshes of your own weakness and indecision.
Phrases like a "clearly expressed will", and so on, will not do. A will, if it is the will of the state, must be expressed in the form of a law established by the state. Otherwise the word “will” is an empty sound. The moment you thought of law , gentlemen, you would have been certain to recall that the Constitution of a free republic cannot ban peaceful demonstrations or any mass actions by any party or group.
A contradictory stand has bred very strange revolutionary ideas—ideas as to the struggle against the counter-revolution, ideas about the state (Constitution), and ideas of law in general. With the furious abuse against our Party refuted, nothing is left, nothing whatsoever!
Despite the furious abuse against our proposed demonstration, the demonstration is to be held a week later.
- Reference is to the statement which the Central Committee of the RSDLP(b) and the Bureau of the Bolshevik group at the First All-Russia Congress of Soviets made regarding the ban on the peaceful demonstration appointed by the Bolshevik Party for June 10 (23), 1917. The statement exposed the provocative conduct of the Menshevik and S.R. loaders of the Congress of Soviets, who banned the demonstration, and the counter-revolutionary policies of the Provisional Government. It warned that the revolution was in danger, and called oil the working class to be staunch and vigilant.
The statement was road at the joint meeting of the Congress Steering Committee, the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, the Executive Committee of the Congress of Peasants’ Deputies, and the bureaus of all Congress parties on June 11 (24). The Bolsheviks had wanted the statement to be read at the Congress sitting on June 12 (25), but the chairman of the meeting denied the Bolsheviks the floor. The statement was therefore handed to the Congress Steering Committee. The same sitting passed a resolution condemning the Bolshevik Party despite the fact that the Bolsheviks had called off the demonstration.