A Strong Revolutionary Government
|Written||6 May 1917|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 360-361
We are for a strong revolutionary government. Whatever the capitalists and their flunkeys may shout about us to the contrary, their lies will remain lies.
The thing is not to let phrases obscure one’s consciousness, disorient one’s mind. When people speak about “revolution”, “the revolutionary people”, “revolutionary democracy”, and so on, nine times out of ten this is a lie or self-deception. The question is—what class is making this revolution? A revolution against whom?
Against tsarism? In that sense most of Russia’s landowners and capitalists today are revolutionaries. When the revolution is an accomplished fact, even reactionaries come into line with it. There is no deception of the masses at present more frequent, more detestable, and more harmful than that which lauds the revolution against tsarism.
Against the landowners? In this sense most of the peasants, even most of the well-to-do peasants, that is, probably nine-tenths of the population in Russia, are revolutionaries. Very likely, some of the capitalists, too, are prepared to become revolutionaries on the grounds that the landowners cannot be saved anyway, so let us better side with the revolution and try to make things safe for capitalism.
Against the capitalists? Now that is the real issue. That is the crux of the matter, because without a revolution against the capitalists, all that prattle about “peace without annexations” and the speedy termination of the war by such a peace is either naïveté and ignorance, or stupidity and deception. But for the war, Russia could have gone on living for years and decades without a revolution against the capitalists. The war has made that objectively impossible. The alternatives are either utter ruin or a revolution against the capitalists. That is how the question stands. That is how the very trend of events poses it.
Instinctively, emotionally, and by attraction, the bulk of Russia’s population, namely, the proletarians and semi proletarians, i.e., the workers and poor peasants, are in sympathy with a revolution against the capitalists. So far, however, there is no clear consciousness of this, and, as a result, no determination. To develop these is our chief task.
The leaders of the petty bourgeoisie—the intellectuals, the prosperous peasants, the present parties of the Narodniks (the S.R.s included) and the Mensheviks—are not at present in favour of a revolution against the capitalists and some of them are even opposed to it, greatly to the detriment of the people’s cause. The coalition cabinet is the kind of “experiment” that is going to help the people as a whole to quickly discard the illusion of petty-bourgeois conciliation with the capitalists.
The conclusion is obvious: only assumption of power by the proletariat, backed by the semi-proletarians, can give the country a really strong and really revolutionary government. It will be really strong because it will be supported by a solid and class-conscious majority of the people. It will be strong because it will not, of necessity, have to be based on a precarious “agreement” between capitalists and small proprietors, between millionaires and petty bourgeoisie, between the Konovalovs-Shingaryovs and the Chernovs-Tseretelis.
It will be a truly revolutionary government, the only one capable of showing the people that at a time when untold suffering is inflicted upon the masses it will not be awed and deterred by capitalist profits. It will be a truly revolutionary government because it alone will be capable of evoking and sustaining the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses and increasing it tenfold, provided the masses, every day and every hour, see and feel that the government believes in the people, is not afraid of them, that it helps the poor to improve their lot right now, that it makes the rich bear an equal share of the heavy burden of the people’s suffering.
We are for a strong revolutionary government.
We are for a strong revolutionary government because it is the only possible and the only reliable government.