Bolshevism and “Demoralisation” of the Army
|Written||16 June 1917|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 570-572
Everybody is screaming for “strong government”. The only salvation is in a dictatorship, in “iron discipline”, in silencing and reducing to obedience all the refractory members of the Right and Left. We know whom they wish to silence. The Rights are making no noise, they are working. Some of them in the government, others at the factories, all of them with threats of lockouts, orders for the disbanding of regiments, and the threat of penal servitude. The Konovalovs and the Tereshchenkos, with the help of the Kerenskys and the Skobelevs, are working in an organised manner for their own good. And they don’t have to be silenced.
All we have is the right of speech.
And of this right they want to deprive us.
Pravda is barred from the front. The Kiev “agents” have decided not to distribute Pravda. The Zemstvo Union is not selling Pravda in its newspaper stands. And now we are promised a “systematic fight against the preaching of Leninism” (Izvestia). On the other hand, every spontaneous protest, every excess, wherever it comes from, is blamed on us.
This, too, is a method for combating Bolshevism.
A well-tried method.
Unable as they are to get clear guidelines, aware instinctively how false and unsatisfactory is the position of the official leaders of democracy, the masses are compelled to grope a way out for themselves.
The result is that every dissatisfied, class-conscious revolutionary, every angered fighter who yearns for his village home and sees no end to the war, and sometimes simply men who are out to save their own skins, rally to the banner of Bolshevism.
Where Bolshevism has a chance to air its views openly, there we find no disorganisation.
Where there are no Bolsheviks or where they are not allowed to speak, there we find excesses, demoralisation, and pseudo-Bolsheviks.
And that is just what our enemies need.
They need a pretext for saying: “The Bolsheviks are demoralising the army” and then shutting the Bolsheviks’ mouths.
To dispose once for all of “enemy” slander and the ridiculous distortions of Bolshevism, we quote the concluding part of a leaflet distributed in the army by one of our delegates on the eve of the All-Russia Congress.
Here it is:
“Comrades, you must have your say.
“Do not let us have any agreements with the bourgeoisie?
“All power to the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies!
“This does not mean that we must immediately overthrow the present government or disobey it. So long as the majority of the peoples support it and believe that five socialists can cope with all the rest, we cannot afford to fritter away our forces in desultory uprisings.
“Husband your strength! Get together at meetings! Pass resolutions! Demand that all power be handed over to the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies! Convince those who disagree with us! Send your resolution to me at the Congress in Petrograd in the name of your regiment, so that I can quote your voice there!
“But beware of those who, posing as Bolsheviks, will try to provoke you to riots and disturbances as a screen for their own cowardice! Know that though they are with you now, they will sell you out to the old regime at the first hint of danger.
“The real Bolsheviks call you to conscious revolutionary struggle, and not to riots.
“Comrades! The All-Russia Congress will elect representatives, to whom, pending the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, the Provisional Government will be accountable.
“Comrades! At that Congress I shall demand:
“First, that all power be handed over to the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
“Second, that a proposal for peace without annexations or indemnities be made Immediately in the name of our people to the peoples and governments of all the belligerent nations, both our Allies and our enemies. If any government tries to turn it down it will be overthrown by its own people.
“Third, that the money which people have made out of the war should be converted to state needs by wag of confiscation of the capitalists’ war profits.
“Comrades! Only by the transfer of power to the democracy in Russia, Germany, and France, only by the overthrow of the bourgeois governments in all countries, can the war be ended.
“Our revolution lies started this, and it is our task now to give a further impetus to the world revolution by having a fully authorised popular Russian government make an order of peace to all the governments of Europe and by strengthening our alliance with the revolutionary democrats of Western Europe.
“Woe betide the bourgeois government that will persist in continuing the war after this.
“Together with Its people we shall make revolutionary war upon that government.
“It is to say all this to our government In Petrograd in your name that I have been elected to the Congress in Petrograd.
“Member of the Army Committee of the 11th Army, Delegate of the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) to the Congress of the South-Western Front, Ensign Krylenko.”
No one who has taken the trouble to read our Party’s resolutions can fail to see that the gist of them has been correctly expressed by Comrade Krylenko.
The Bolsheviks are calling the proletariat, the poor peasants and all the toiling and exploited people to a conscious revolutionary struggle, and not to riots and disturbances.
Only a genuine government of the people, a government belonging to the majority of the nation, is capable of following the right path leading mankind to the overthrow of the capitalist yoke, to deliverance from the horrors and misery of the imperialist war, and to a just and lasting peace.