Capitalist Mockery of the People
|Written||31 May 1917|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 549-551.
The meeting of representatives of the capitalists and workers of the southern mining industry ended on May 23.
The meeting came to nothing. The capitalists found all the demands of the workers unacceptable. The workers’ delegation attending the meeting read a statement disclaiming all responsibility for possible complications.
The case is as clear as clear can be. The crisis has not been averted in the least. The employers have not been curbed.
And now we read—it would be amusing, were it not so sad—that it has been decided to appoint a committee made up of representatives of the government and the two conflicting parties (!) and that the employers have asked for an immediate increase in prices!
To give the reader an idea to what lengths the capitalists go in defying the people, we quote a few passages from a ministerial newspaper (i.e., the mouthpiece of a party that has representatives in the cabinet):
“The workers’ delegation [from the southern mining industry] informed the Economic Department of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies about the actual state of affairs. On the basis of this information, we can declare that the employers’ figures quoted by N. N. Kutler are absolutely untrustworthy.
“The colliery owners had been making enormous profits before the revolution, and yet, just before its outbreak, they were haggling with the old government for a rise in the requisition prices on coal. In addition to the three kopeks which the government was willing to grant, the colliery owners were asking five more kopeks. From the revolutionary Provisional Government, on the other hand, they succeeded, during the very first days of the revolution, in obtaining a rise of eight kopeks, this new rate being extended to the old deliveries to the rail ways, and to requisitions dating back to January. Afterwards they managed to get three kopeks more, making a total of eleven kopeks.
“Before the revolution the requisition price was eighteen kopeks; now it is twenty-nine. Government contracts at that time brought twenty two kopeks per pood, while now the prices are thirty-three and thirty-four and even more.”
What is this if not the most outrageous mockery of the people on the part of the capitalists?
Taking advantage of the revolution, the capitalist government, styling itself a “revolutionary” government and using this “noble” name to hoodwink the ignorant people, is putting more and more money into the pockets of the capitalists, helping them to amass more and more millions!
The country is on the verge of ruin, and the ten capitalist members of the Provisional Government are accommodating the employers who are looting the land, robbing the people, and swelling the colossal profits of capital.
“The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is under the beck and call of the congress of the South Russian mine owners. Faced by the catastrophe towards which industry in the South is heading, it does nothing to avert it; on the contrary, it systematically submits to the pressure of the southern industrialists.”
Thus wrote the very same ministerial paper, the organ of the Mensheviks, Rabochaya Gazeta, on May 14, 1917, a week after the coalition cabinet was formed.
Since then absolutely nothing has changed.
But the ministerial paper has been forced to admit even more damaging facts. Listen to this:
“The owners are sabotaging. They are deliberately letting things slide. If a pump is needed, no one looks for it. If wire gauze is needed for the miners safety lamps, it is not supplied. The owners do not want to increase production. Nor do they want to spend any money on essential repairs, or on replacing worn-out equipment. The machines are getting old, and will soon be out of commission. Frequently the workers themselves, when told that this or that article cannot be obtained, go out to buy the necessary tools, and they generally find what they need. The employers do nothing to ship their products, such as coal, cast-iron, etc. Products to the value of tens and hundreds of millions of rubles lie idle, while the country is in dire need of them.”
Thus wrote the ministerial paper, mouthpiece of that same Menshevik party to which Tsereteli and Skobelev belong.
This is sheer mockery of the people on the part of the capitalists. It’s like a madhouse, with the capitalists acting in collusion with the bourgeois section of the Provisional Government (among the members of which are Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries), with the capitalists using obstruction and wrecking tactics, and doing nothing to ship their products, without which the country is facing ruin.
Without coal, the factories and railways are coming to a stand. Unemployment is spreading. There is a shortage of goods. The peasants cannot part with their grain without getting anything in return. Famine is imminent.
And all this because of the capitalists, who are in collusion with the government!
And all this is tolerated by the Narodniks, the Socialist- Revolutionaries, and the Mensheviks! They dismiss the matter with, phrases. They wrote about these crimes of the capitalists on May 14. It is now May 31. Over a fortnight has passed. But nothing has changed. Famine is steadily approaching.
To cover up the crimes of the capitalists and distract the attention of the people, all the capitalist newspapers—Rech, Dyen, Novoye Vremya, Russkaya Volya, Birzheviye Vedomosti and Yedinstvo—vie with each other in daily emptying their slop pails of lies and calumny over the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks are to blame for the colliery owners acting in collusion with the government, for their stopping and wrecking production!
This would indeed resemble a madhouse, were it not for the theory and world-wide experience of the class struggle which have shown us that the capitalists and their government (supported by the Mensheviks) will stop at nothing when it comes to safeguarding their profits.
When is this going to stop? Must we wait until disaster sweeps the land, and people begin to die of starvation by the hundred and the thousand?