Extraordinary Seventh Congress of the RCP(b)
|Written||6 March 1918|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 27, 1972, pages 85-158
1. Political Report Of The Central Committee[edit source]
A political report might consist of an enumeration of measures taken by the Central Committee; but the essential thing at the present moment is not a report of this kind, but a review of our revolution as a whole; that is the only thing that can provide a truly Marxist substantiation of all our decisions. We must examine the whole preceding course of development of the revolution and ascertain why the course of its further development has changed. There have been turning-points in our revolution that will have enormous significance for the world revolution. One such turning-point was the October Revolution.
The first successes of the February Revolution were due to the fact that the proletariat was followed, not only by the masses of the rural population, but also by the bourgeoisie. Hence, the easy victory over tsarism, something we had failed to achieve in 1905. The spontaneous formation of Soviets of Workers’ Deputies in the February Revolution was a repetition of the experience of 1905—we had to proclaim the principle of Soviet power. The masses learned the tasks of the revolution from their own experience of the struggle. The events of April 20-21 were a peculiar combination of demonstrations and of something in the nature of armed uprising. This was enough to cause the fall of the bourgeois government. Then began the long period of the collaboration policy, which stemmed from the very nature of the petty-bourgeois government that had come to power. The July events could not then establish the dictatorship of the proletariat—the masses were still not prepared for it. That was why not one of the responsible organisations called upon them to establish it. But as a reconnoitring operation in the enemy’s camp, the July events were of enormous significance. The Kornilov revolt and the subsequent events served as practical lessons and made possible the October victory. The mistake committed by those who even in October wished to divide power was their failure to connect the October victory with the July days, with the offensive, with the Kornilov revolt, etc., etc., events which caused the millions of the common people to realise that Soviet power had become inevitable. Then followed our triumphal march throughout Russia, accompanied by a universal desire for peace. We know that we cannot achieve peace by a unilateral withdrawal from the war. We pointed to this as far back as the April Conference. In the period from April to October, the soldiers clearly realised that the policy of collaboration was prolonging the war and was leading to the savage, senseless attempts of the imperialists to start an offensive and to get still more entangled in a war that would last for years. That was the reason why it was necessary at all costs to adopt an active policy of peace as quickly as possible, why it was necessary for the Soviets to take power into their own hands, and abolish landed proprietorship. You know that the latter was upheld not only by Kerensky but also by Avksentyev, who even went so far as to order the arrest of the members of the Land Committees. The policy we adopted, the slogan of “Power to the Soviets”, which we instilled into the minds of the majority of the people, enabled us, in October, to achieve victory very easily in St. Petersburg, and transformed the last months of the Russian revolution into one continuous triumphal march.
Civil war became a fact. The transformation of the imperialist war into civil war, which we had predicted at the beginning of the revolution, and even at the beginning of the war, and which considerable sections of socialist circles treated skeptically and even with ridicule, actually took place on October 25, 1917, in one of the largest and most backward of the belligerent countries. In this civil war the overwhelming majority of the population proved to be on our side, and that is why victory was achieved with such extraordinary ease.
The troops who abandoned the front carried with them wherever they went the maximum of revolutionary determination to put an end to collaboration; and the collaborationist elements, the whiteguards and the landowners’ sons found themselves without support among the population. The war against them gradually turned into a victorious triumphal march of the revolution as the masses of the people and the military units that were sent against us came over to the side of the Bolsheviks. We saw this in Petrograd, on the Gatchina front, where the Cossacks, whom Kerensky and Krasnov tried to lead against the Red capital, wavered; we saw this later in Moscow, in Orenburg and in the Ukraine. A wave of civil war swept over the whole of Russia, and everywhere we achieved victory with extraordinary ease precisely because the fruit had ripened, because the masses had already gone through the experience of collaboration with the bourgeoisie. Our slogan “All Power to the Soviets”, which the masses had tested in practice by long historical experience, had become part of their flesh and blood.
That is why the Russian revolution was a continuous triumphal march in the first months after October 25, 1917. As a result of this the difficulties which the socialist revolution immediately encountered, and could not but encounter, were forgotten, were pushed into the background. One of the fundamental differences between bourgeois revolution and socialist revolution is that for the bourgeois revolution, which arises out of feudalism, the new economic organisations are gradually created in the womb of the old order, gradually changing all the aspects of feudal society.The bourgeois revolution faced only one task—to sweep away, to cast aside, to destroy all the fetters of the preceding social order. By fulfilling this task every bourgeois revolution fulfils all that is required of it; it accelerates the growth of capitalism.
The socialist revolution is in an altogether different position. The more backward the country which, owing to the zigzags of history, has proved to be the one to start the socialist revolution, the more difficult is it for that country to pass from the old capitalist relations to socialist relations. New incredibly difficult tasks, organisational tasks, are added to the tasks of destruction. Had not the popular creative spirit of the Russian revolution, which had gone through the great experience of the year 1905, given rise to the Soviets as early as February 1917, they could not under any circumstances have assumed power in October, because success depended entirely upon the existence of available organisational forms of a movement embracing millions. The Soviets were the available form, and that is why in the political sphere the future held out to us those brilliant successes, the continuous triumphal march, that we had; for the new form of political power was already available, and all we had to do was to pass a few decrees, and transform the power of the Soviets from the embryonic state in which it existed in the first months of the revolution into the legally recognised form which had become established in the Russian state—i.e., into the Russian Soviet Republic. The Republic was born at one stroke; it was born so easily because in February 1917 the masses had created the Soviets even before any party had managed to proclaim this slogan. It was the great creative spirit of the people, which had passed through the bitter experience of 1905 and had been made wise by it, that gave rise to this form of proletarian power. The task of achieving victory over the internal enemy was an extremely easy one. The task of creating the political power was an extremely easy one because the masses had created the skeleton, the basis of this power. The Republic of Soviets was born at one stroke. But two exceedingly difficult problems still remained, the solution of which could not possibly be the triumphal march we experienced in the first months of our revolution—we did not doubt, we could not doubt, that the socialist revolution would be later confronted with enormously difficult tasks.
First, there was the problem of internal organisation, which confronts every socialist revolution. The difference between a socialist revolution and a bourgeois revolution is that in the latter case there are ready-made forms of capitalist relationships; Soviet power—the proletarian power—does not inherit such ready-made relationships, if we leave out of account the most developed forms of capitalism, which, strictly speaking, extended to but a small top layer of industry and hardly touched agriculture. The organisation of accounting, the control of large enterprises, the transformation of the whole of the state economic mechanism into a single huge machine, into an economic organism that will work in such a way as to enable hundreds of millions of people to be guided by a single plan—such was the enormous organisational problem that rested on our shoulders. Under the present conditions of labour this problem could not possibly be solved by the “hurrah” methods by which we were able to solve the problems of the Civil War. The very nature of the task prevented a solution by these methods. We achieved easy victories over the Kaledin revolt and created the Soviet Republic in face of a resistance that was not even worth serious consideration; the course of events was predetermined by the whole of the preceding objective development, so that all we had to do was say the last word and change the signboard, i.e., take down the sign “The Soviet exists as a trade union organisation”, and put up instead the sign “The Soviet is the sole form of state power"; the situation, however, was altogether different in regard to organisational problems. In this field we encountered enormous difficulties. It immediately became clear to everyone who cared to ponder over the tasks of our revolution that only by the hard and long path of self-discipline would it be possible to overcome the disintegration that the war had caused in capitalist society, that only by extraordinarily hard, long and persistent effort could we cope with this disintegration and defeat those elements aggravating it, elements which regarded the revolution as a means of discarding old fetters and getting as much out of it for themselves as they possibly could. The emergence of a large number of such elements was inevitable in a small-peasant country at a time of incredible economic chaos, and the fight against these elements that is ahead of us, that we have only just started, will be a hundred times more difficult, it will be a fight which promises no spectacular opportunities. We are only in the first stage of this fight. Severe trials await us. The objective situation precludes any idea of limiting ourselves to a triumphal march with flying banners such as we had in fighting against Kaledin. Anyone who attempted to apply these methods of struggle to the organisational tasks that confront the revolution would only prove his bankruptcy as a politician, as a socialist, as an active worker in the socialist revolution.
The same thing awaited some of our young comrades who were carried away by the initial triumphal march of the revolution, when it came up against the second enormous difficulty—the international question. The reason we achieved such an easy victory over Kerensky’s gangs, the reason we so easily set up our government and without the slightest difficulty passed decrees on the socialisation of the land and on workers’ control, the reason we achieved all this so easily was a fortunate combination of circumstances that protected us for a short time from international imperialism. International imperialism, with the entire might of its capital, with its highly organised war machine, which is a real force, a real stronghold of international capital, could not, under any circumstances, under any conditions, live side by side with the Soviet Republic, both because of its objective position and because of the economic interests of the capitalist class embodied in it, because of commercial connections, of international financial relations. In this sphere a conflict is inevitable. This is the greatest difficulty of the Russian revolution, its greatest historical problem—the need to solve international problems, the need to evoke a world revolution, to effect the transition from our strictly national revolution to the world revolution. This problem confronts us in all its incredible difficulty. I repeat, very many of our young friends who regard themselves as Lefts have begun to forget the most important thing: why in the course of the weeks and months of the enormous triumph after October we were able so easily to pass from victory to victory. And yet this was due only to a special combination of international circumstances that temporarily shielded us from imperialism. Imperialism had other things to bother about besides us. And it seemed to us that we, too, had other things to bother about besides imperialism. Individual imperialists had no time to bother with us, solely because the whole of the great social, political and military might of modern world imperialism was split by internecine war into two groups. The imperialist plunderers involved in this struggle had gone to such incredible lengths, were locked in mortal combat to such a degree, that neither of the groups was able to concentrate any effective forces against the Russian revolution. These were the circumstances in which we found ourselves in October. It is paradoxical but true that our revolution broke out at so fortunate a moment, when unprecedented disasters involving the destruction of millions of human beings had overtaken most of the imperialist countries, when the unprecedented calamities attending the war had exhausted the nations, when in the fourth year of the war the belligerent countries had reached an impasse, a parting of the ways, when the question arose objectively—could nations reduced to such a state continue fighting? It was only because our revolution broke out at so fortunate a moment as this, when neither of the two gigantic groups of plunderers was in a position immediately either to hurl itself at the other, or to unite with the other against us; our revolution could (and did) take advantage only of a situation such as this in international political and economic relations to accomplish its brilliant triumphal march in European Russia, spread to Finland and begin to win the Caucasus and Rumania. This alone explains the appearance of Party functionaries, intellectual supermen, in the leading circles of our Party who allowed themselves to be carried away by this triumphal march and who said we could cope with international imperialism; over there, there will also be a triumphal march, over there, there will be no real difficulties. This was at variance with the objective position of the Russian revolution which had merely taken advantage of the setback of international imperialism; the engine that was supposed to bear down on us with the force of a railway train bearing down on a wheelbarrow and smashing it to splinters, was temporarily stalled—and the engine was stalled because the two groups of predators had clashed. Here and there the revolutionary movement was growing, but in all the imperialist countries without exception it was still mainly in the initial stage. Its rate of development was entirely different from ours. Anyone who has given careful thought to the economic prerequisites of the socialist revolution in Europe must be clear on the point that in Europe it will be immeasurably more difficult to start, whereas it was immeasurably more easy for us to start; but it will be more difficult for us to continue the revolution than it will be over there. This objective situation caused us to experience an extraordinarily sharp and difficult turn in history. From the continuous triumphal march on our internal front, against our counter-revolution, against the enemies of Soviet power in October, November and December, we had to pass to a collision with real international imperialism, in its real hostility towards us. From the period of the triumphal march we had to pass to a period in which we were in an extraordinarily difficult and painful situation, one which certainly could not be brushed aside with words, with brilliant slogans—however pleasant that would have been—because in our disorganised country we had to deal with incredibly weary masses, who had reached a state in which they could not possibly go on fighting, who were so shattered by three years of agonising war that they were absolutely useless from the military point of view. Even before the October Revolution we saw representatives of the masses of the soldiers, not members of the Bolshevik Party, who did not hesitate to tell the bourgeoisie the truth that the Russian army would not fight. This state of the army has brought about a gigantic crisis. A small-peasant country, disorganised by war, reduced to an incredible state, has been placed in an extremely difficult position. We have no army, but we have to go on living side by side with a predator who is armed to the teeth, a predator who still remains and will continue to remain a plunderer and is not, of course, affected by agitation in favour of peace without annexations and indemnities. A tame, domestic animal has been lying side by side with a tiger and trying to persuade the latter to conclude a peace without annexations and indemnities, although the only way such a peace could be attained was by attacking the tiger. The top layer of our Party—intellectuals and some of the workers’ organisations—has been trying in the main to brush this prospect aside with phrases and such excuses as “that is not the way it should be”. This peace was too incredible a prospect for them to believe that we, who up to now had marched in open battle with colours flying and had stormed the enemy’s positions with “hurrahs”, could yield and accept these humiliating terms. Never! We are exceedingly proud revolutionaries, we declare above all: “The Germans cannot attack.”
This was the first argument with which these people consoled themselves. History has now placed us in an extraordinarily difficult position; in the midst of organisational work of unparalleled difficulty we shall have to experience a number of painful defeats. Regarded from the world-historical point of view, there would doubtlessly be no hope of the ultimate victory of our revolution if it were to remain alone, if there were no revolutionary movements in other countries. When the Bolshevik Party tackled the job alone, it did so in the firm conviction that the revolution was maturing in all countries and that in the end—but not at the very beginning—no matter what difficulties we experienced, no matter what defeats were in store for us, the world socialist revolution would come—because it is coming; would mature— because it is maturing and will reach full maturity. I repeat, our salvation from all these difficulties is an all Europe revolution. Taking this truth, this absolutely abstract truth, as our starting-point, and being guided by it, we must see to it that it does not in time become a mere phrase, because every abstract truth, if it is accepted without analysis, becomes a mere phrase. If you say that every strike conceals the hydra of revolution, and he who fails to understand this is no socialist, you are right. Yes, the socialist revolution looms behind every strike. But if you say that every single strike is an immediate step towards the socialist revolution, you will be uttering perfectly empty phrases. We have heard these phrases “every blessed time in the same place” and have got so sick and tired of them that the workers have rejected these anarchist phrases, because undoubtedly, clear as it is that behind every strike there looms the hydra of socialist revolution, it is equally clear that the assertion that every strike can develop into revolution is utter nonsense. Just as it is indisputable that all the difficulties in our revolution will be overcome only when the world socialist revolution matures—and it is maturing now everywhere—it is absolutely absurd to declare that we must conceal every real difficulty of our revolution today and say: “I bank on the international socialist movement—I can commit any piece of folly I please.” “Liebknecht will help us out, because he is going to win, anyhow.” He will create such an excellent organisation, he will plan everything beforehand so well that we shall be able to take ready-made forms in the same way as we took the ready-made Marxist doctrine from Western Europe—and maybe that is why it triumphed in our country in a few months, whereas it has been taking decades to triumph in Western Europe. Thus lt would have been reckless gambling to apply the old method of solving the problem of the struggle by a triumphal march to the new historical period which has set in, and which has confronted us, not with feeble Kerensky and Kornilov, but with an international predator—the imperialism of Germany, where the revolution has been maturing but has obviously not yet reached maturity. The assertion that the enemy would not dare attack the revolution was such a gamble. The situation at the time of the Brest negotiations was not yet such as to compel us to accept any peace terms. The objective alignment of forces was such that a respite would not have been enough. It took the Brest negotiations to show that the Germans would attack, that German society was not so pregnant with revolution that it could give birth to it at once; and we cannot blame the German imperialists for not having prepared that outbreak by their conduct, or, as our young friends who regard themselves as Lefts say, for not having created a situation in which the Germans could not attack. When we tell them that we have no army, that we were compelled to demobilise—we were compelled to do so, although we never forgot that a tiger was lying beside our tame, domestic animal—they refuse to understand. Although we were compelled to demobilise we did not for a moment forget that it was impossible to end the war unilaterally by issuing an order to stick the bayonets in the ground.
Generally speaking, how is it that not a single trend, not a single tendency, not a single organisation in our Party opposed this demobilisation? Had we gone mad? Not in the least. Officers, not Bolsheviks, had stated even before October that the army could not fight, that it could not be kept at the front even for a few weeks longer. After October this became obvious to everybody who was willing to recognise the facts, willing to see the unpleasant, bitter reality and not hide, or pull his cap over his eyes, and make shift with proud phrases. We have no army, we cannot hold it. The best thing we can do is to demobilise it as quickly as possible. This is the sick part of the organism, which has suffered incredible torture, has been ravaged by the priva tions of a war into which it entered technically unprepared, and from which it has emerged in such a state that it succumbs to panic at every attack. We cannot blame these people who have experienced incredible suffering. In hundreds of resolutions, even in the first period of the Russian revolution, the soldiers have said quite frankly: “We are drowning in blood, we cannot go on fighting.” One could have delayed the end of the war artificially, one could have committed the frauds Kerensky committed, one could have postponed the end for a few weeks, but objective reality broke its own road. This is the sick part of the Russian state organism which can no longer bear the burden of the war. The quicker we demobilise the army, the sooner it will become absorbed by those parts that are not so sick and the sooner will the country be prepared for new severe trials. That is what we felt when we unanimously, without the slightest protest, adopted the decision—which was absurd from the point of view of foreign events—to demobilise the army. It was the proper step to take. We said that it was a frivolous illusion to believe that we could hold the army. The sooner we demobilised the army, the sooner would the social organism as a whole recover. That is why the revolutionary phrase, “The Germans cannot attack”, from which the other phrase ("We can declare the state of war terminated. Neither war nor the signing of peace.") derived, was such a profound mistake, such a bitter over-estimation of events. But suppose the Germans do attack? “No, they cannot attack.” But have you the right to risk the world revolution? What about the concrete question of whether you may not prove to be accomplices of German imperialism when that moment comes? But we, who since October 1917 have all become defencists, who have recognised the principle of defence of the fatherland, we all know that we have broken with imperialism, not merely in word but in deed; we have destroyed the secret treaties, vanquished the bourgeoisie in our own country and proposed an open and honest peace so that all the nations may see what our intentions really are. How could people who seriously uphold the position of defending the Soviet Republic agree to this gamble, which has already produced results? And this is a fact, because the severe crisis which our Party is now experiencing, owing to the formation of a “Left” opposition within it, is one of the gravest crises the Russian revolution has experienced.
This crisis will be overcome. Under no circumstances will it break the neck of our Party, or of our revolution, although at the present moment it has come very near to doing so, there was a possibility of it. The guarantee that we shall not break our neck on this question is this: instead of applying the old method of settling factional differences, the old method of issuing an enormous quantity of literature, of having many discussions and plenty of splits, instead of this old method, events have provided our people with a new method of learning things. This method is to put every thing to the test of facts, events, the lessons of world history. You said that the Germans could not attack. The logic of your tactics was that we could declare the state of war to be terminated. History has taught you a lesson, it has shattered this illusion. Yes, the German revolution is growing, but not in the way we should like it, not as fast as Russian intellectuals would have it, not at the rate our history developed in October—when we entered any town we liked, proclaimed Soviet power, and within a few days nine-tenths of the workers came over to our side. The German revolution has the misfortune of not moving so fast. What do you think? Must we reckon with the revolution, or must the revolution reckon with us? You wanted the revolution to reckon with you. But history has taught you a lesson. It is a lesson, because it is the absolute truth that without a German revolution we are doomed—perhaps not in Petrograd, not in Moscow, but in Vladivostok, in more remote places to which perhaps we shall have to retreat, and the distance to which is perhaps greater than the distance from Petrograd to Moscow. At all events, under all conceivable circumstances, if the German revolution does not come, we are doomed. Nevertheless, this does not in the least shake our conviction that we must be able to bear the most difficult position without blustering.
The revolution will not come as quickly as we expected. History has proved this, and we must be able to take this as a fact, to reckon with the fact that the world socialist revolution cannot begin so easily in the advanced countries as the revolution began in Russia—in the land of Nicholas and Rasputin, the land in which an enormous part of the population was absolutely indifferent as to what peoples were living in the outlying regions, or what was happening there. In such a country it was quite easy to start a revolution, as easy as lifting a feather.
But to start without preparation a revolution in a country in which capitalism is developed and has given democratic culture and organisation to everybody, down to the last man—to do so would be wrong, absurd. There we are only just approaching the painful period of the beginning of socialist revolutions. This is a fact. We do not know, no one knows, perhaps—it is quite possible—it will triumph within a few weeks, even within a few days, but we cannot stake everything on that. We must be prepared for extraordinary difficulties, for extraordinarily severe defeats, which are inevitable because the revolution in Europe has not yet begun, although it may begin tomorrow; and when it does begin, then, of course, we shall not be tortured by doubts, there will be no question about a revolutionary war, but just one continuous triumphal march. That is to come, it will inevitably be so, but it is not so yet. This is the simple fact that history has taught us, with which it has hit us very painfully—and it is said a man who has been thrashed is worth two who haven’t. That is why I think that now history has given us a very painful thrashing, because of our hope that the Germans could not attack and that we could get everything by shouting “hurrah!”, this lesson, with the help of our Soviet organisations, will be very quickly brought home to the masses all over Soviet Russia. They are aIl up and doing, gathering, preparing for the Congress, passing resolutions, thinking over what has happened. What is taking place at the present time does not resemble the old pre-revolutionary controversies, which remained within narrow Party circles; now all decisions are submitted for discussion to the masses, who demand that they be tested by experience, by deeds, who never allow themselves to be carried away by frivolous speeches, and never allow themselves to be diverted from the path prescribed by the objective progress of events. Of course, an intellectual, or a Left Bolshevik, can try to talk his way out of difficulties. He can try to talk his way out of such facts as the absence of an army and the failure of the revolution to begin in Germany. The millions-strong masses—and politics begin where millions of men and women are; where there are not thousands, but millions, that is where serious politics begin—the masses know what the army is like, they have seen soldiers returning from the front. They know—that is, if you take, not individual persons, but real masses—that we cannot fight, that every man at the front has endured everything imaginable. The masses have realised the truth that if we have no army, and a predator is lying beside us, we shall have to sign a most harsh, humiliating peace treaty. That is inevitable until the birth of the revolution, until you cure your army, until you allow the men to return home. Until then the patient will not recover. And we shall not be able to cope with the German predator by shouting “hurrah!"; we shall not be able to throw him off as easily as we threw off Kerensky and Kornilov. This is the lesson the masses have learned without the excuses that certain of those who desire to evade bitter reality have tried to present them with.
At first a continuous triumphal march in October and November—then, suddenly, in the space of a few weeks, the Russian revolution is defeated by the German predator; the Russian revolution is prepared to accept the terms of a predatory treaty. Yes, the turns taken by history are very painful. All such turns affect us painfully. When, in 1907, we signed the incredibly shameful internal treaty with Stolypin, when we were compelled to pass through the pigsty of the Stolypin Duma and assumed obligations by signing scraps of monarchist paper, we experienced what we are experiencing now but on a smaller scale. At that time, people who were among the finest in the vanguard of the revolution said (and they too had not the slightest doubt that they were right), “We are proud revolutionaries, we believe in the Russian revolution, we will never enter legal Stolypin institutions.” Yes, you will, we said. The life of the masses, history, are stronger than your protestations. If you won’t go, we said, history will compel you to. These were very Left people and after the first turn in history nothing remained of them as a group but smoke. Just as we proved able to remain revolutionaries, proved able to work under terrible conditions and emerge from them, so shall we emerge now because it is not our whim, it is objective inevitability that has arisen in an utterly ruined country, because in spite of our desires the European revolution dared to be late, and in spite of our desires German imperialism dared to attack.
Here one must know how to retreat. We cannot hide the incredibly bitter, deplorable reality from ourselves with empty phrases; we must say: God grant that we retreat in what is half-way good order. We cannot retreat in good order, but God grant that our retreat is half-way good order, that we gain a little time in which the sick part of our organism can be absorbed at least to some extent. On the whole the organism is sound, it will overcome its sickness; But you cannot expect it to overcome it all at once, instantaneously; you cannot stop an army in flight. When I said to one of our young friends, a would-be Left, “Comrade, go to the front, see what is going on in the army”, he took offence at this proposal. He said, “They want to banish us so as to prevent our agitating here for the great principles of a revolutionary war.” In making this proposal I really had no intention whatever of banishing factional enemies; I merely suggested that they go and see for themselves that the army had begun to run away in an unprecedented manner. We knew that even before this, even before this we could not close our eyes to the fact that the disintegration of the army had gone on to such an unheard-of extent that our guns were being sold to the Germans for a song. We knew this, just as we know that the army cannot be held back, and the argument that the Germans would not attack was a great gamble. If the European revolution is late in coming, gravest defeats await us because we have no army, because we lack organisation, because, at the moment, these are two problems we cannot solve. If you are unable to adapt yourself, if you are not inclined to crawl on your belly in the mud, you are not a revolutionary but a chatterbox; and I propose this, not because I like it, but because we have no other road, because history has not been kind enough to bring the revolution to maturity everywhere simultaneously.
The way things are turning out is that the civil war has begun as an attempt at a clash with imperialism, and this has shown that imperialism is rotten to the core, and that proletarian elements are rising in every army. Yes, we shall see the world revolution, but for the time being it is a very good fairy-tale, a very beautiful fairy-tale—I quite understand children liking beautiful fairy-tales. But I ask, is it proper for a serious revolutionary to believe in fairy-tales? There is an element of reality in every fairy-tale. If you told children fairy-tales in which the cock and the cat did not converse in human language they would not be interested. In the same way, if you tell the people that civil war will break out in Germany and also guarantee that instead of a clash with imperialism we shall have a field revolution on a world-wide scale, the people will say you are deceiving them. In doing this you will be overcoming the difficulties with which history has confronted us only in your own minds, by your own wishes. It will be a good thing if the German proletariat is able to take action. But have you measured it, have you discovered an instrument that will show that the German revolution will break out on such-and-such a day? No, you do not know that, and neither do we. You are staking everything on this card. If the revolution breaks out, everything is saved. Of course! But if it does not turn out as we desire, if it does not achieve victory tomorrow—what then? Then the masses will say to you, you acted like gamblers—you staked everything on a fortunate turn of events that did not take place, you proved unfitted for the situation that actually arose instead of the world revolution, which will inevitably come, but which has not yet reached maturity.
A period has set in of severe defeats, inflicted by imperial ism, which is armed to the teeth, upon a country which has demobilised its army, which had to demobilise. What I predicted has come to pass; instead of the Brest peace we have a much more humiliating peace, and the blame for this rests upon those who refused to accept the former peace. We knew that through the fault of the army we were concluding peace with imperialism. We sat at the table beside Hoffmann and not Liebknecht—and in doing so we assisted the German revolution. But now you are assisting German imperialism, because you have surrendered wealth valued at millions in guns and shells; and anybody who had seen the state—the incredible state—of the army could have predicted this. Everyone of integrity who came from the front said that had the Germans made the slightest attack we should have perished inevitably and absolutely. We should have fallen prey to the enemy within a few days.
Having been taught this lesson, we shall overcome our split, our crisis, however severe the disease may be, because an immeasurably more reliable ally will come to our assistance—the world revolution. When the ratification of this Peace of Tilsit, this unbelievable peace, more humiliating and predatory than the Brest peace, is spoken of, I say: certainly, yes. We must do this because we look at things from the point of view of the masses. Any attempt to apply the tactics applied internally in one country between October and November—the triumphant period of the revolution—to apply them with the aid of our imagination to the progress of events in the world revolution, is doomed to failure. When it is said that the respite is a fantasy, when a newspaper called Kommunist—from the word “Commune”, I suppose—when this paper fills column after column with attempts to refute the respite theory, I say that I have lived through quite a lot of factional conflicts and splits and so I have a great deal of experience; and I must say that it is clear to me that this disease will not be cured by the old method of factional Party splits because events will cure it more quickly. Life is marching forward very quickly. In this respect it is magnificent. History is driving its locomotive so fast that before the editors of Kommunist bring out their next issue the majority of the workers in Petrograd will have begun to be disappointed in its ideas, because events are proving that the respite is a fact. We are now signing a peace treaty, we have a respite, we are taking advantage of it the better to defend our fatherland—because had we been at war we should have had an army fleeing in panic which would have had to be stopped, and which our comrades cannot and could not stop, because war is more powerful than sermons, more powerful than ten thousand arguments—. Since they did not understand the objective situation they could not hold back the army, and cannot do so. This sick army infected the whole organism, and another unparalleled defeat was inflicted upon us. German imperialism struck another blow at the revolution, a severe blow, because we allowed ourselves to face the blows of imperialism without machine-guns. Meanwhile, we shall take advantage of this breathing-space to persuade the people to unite and fight, to say to the Russian workers and peasants: “Organise self-discipline, strict discipline, otherwise you will have to remain lying under the German jackboot as you are lying now, as you will inevitably have to lie until the people learn to fight and to create an army capable, not of running away, but of bearing untold suffering.” It is inevitable, because the German revolution has not yet begun, and we cannot guarantee that it will come tomorrow.
That is why the respite theory, which is totally rejected in the flood of articles in Kommunist, is advanced by reality. Everyone can see that the respite is a fact, that everyone is taking advantage of it. We believed that we would lose Petrograd in a few days when the advancing German troops were only a few days’ march away, and when our best sailors and the Putilov workers,[those employed at the giant Putilov Works in Petrograd.—Transcriber] notwithstanding all their great enthusiasm, remained alone, when incredible chaos and panic broke out, which compelled our troops to flee all the way to Gatchina, and when we had cases of positions being recaptured that had never been lost—by a telegraph operator, arriving at the station, taking his place at the key and wiring, “No Germans in sight. We have occupied the station.” A few hours later I received a telephone communication from the Commissariat of Railways informing me, “We have occupied the next station. We are approaching Yamburg. No Germans in sight. Telegraph operator at his post.” That is the kind of thing we had. This is the real history of the eleven days’ war.It was described to us by sailors and Putilov workers, who ought to be brought to the Congress of Soviets. Let them tell the truth. It is a frightfully bitter, disappointing, painful and humiliating truth, but it is a hundred times more useful, it can be understood by the Russian people.
One may dream about the field revolution on a world-wide scale, for it will come. Everything will come in due time; but for the time being, set to work to establish self-discipline, subordination before all else, so that we can have exemplary order, so that the workers for at least one hour in twenty-four may train to fight. This is a little more difficult than relating beautiful fairy-tales. This is what we can do today; in this way you will help the German revolution, the world revolution. We do not know how many days the respite will last, but we have got it. We must demobilise the army as quickly as possible, because it is a sick organ; meanwhile, we will assist the Finnish revolution.
Yes, of course, we are violating the treaty; we have violated it thirty or forty times. Only children can fail to understand that in an epoch like the present, when a long painful period of emancipation is setting in, which has only just created and raised the Soviet power three stages in its development—only children can fail to understand that in this case there must be a long, circumspect struggle. The shameful peace treaty is rousing protest, but when comrades from Kommunist talk about war they appeal to sentiment and forget that the people are clenching their fists with rage, are “seeing red”. What do they say? “A class-conscious revolutionary will never live through this, will never submit to such a disgrace.” Their newspaper bears the title Kommunist, but it should bear the title Szlachcic [Szlachcic—a Polish nobleman —Ed.] because it looks at things from the point of view of the szlachcic who, dying in a beautiful pose, sword in hand, said: “Peace is disgraceful, war is honourable.” They argue from the point of view of the szlachcic ; I argue from the point of view of the peasant.
If I accept peace when the army is in flight, and must be in flight if it is not to lose thousands of men, I accept it in order to prevent things from getting worse. Is the treaty really shameful? Why, every sober-minded peasant and worker will say I am right, because they understand that peace is a means of gathering forces. History knows—I have referred to it more than once—the case of the liberation of the Germans from Napoleon after the Peace of Tilsit. I deliberately called the peace a Peace of Tilsit although we did not undertake to do what had been stipulated in that treaty, we did not undertake to provide troops to assist the victor to conquer other nations—things like that have happened in history, and will happen to us if we continue to place our hopes in the field revolution on a world-wide scale. Take care that history does not impose upon you this form of military slavery as well. And before the socialist revolution is victorious in all countries the Soviet Republic may be reduced to slavery. At Tilsit, Napoleon compelled the Germans to accept incredibly disgraceful peace terms. That peace had to be signed several times. The Hoffmann of those days—Napoleon—time and again caught the Germans violating the peace treaty, and the present Hoffmann will catch us at it. Only we shall take care that he does not catch us soon.
The last war has been a bitter, painful, but serious lesson for the Russian people. It has taught them to organise, to become disciplined, to obey, to establish a discipline that will be exemplary. Learn discipline from the Germans; for, if we do not, we, as a people, are doomed, we shall live in eternal slavery.
This way, and no other, has been the way of history. History tells us that peace is a respite for war, war is a means of obtaining a somewhat better or somewhat worse peace. At Brest the relation of forces corresponded to a peace imposed upon the one who has been defeated, but it was not a humiliating peace. The relation of forces at Pskov corresponded to a disgraceful, more humiliating peace; and in Petrograd and Moscow, at the next stage, a peace four times more humiliating will be dictated to us. We do not say that the Soviet power is only a form, as our young Moscow friends have said, we do not say that the content can be sacrificed for this or that revolutionary principle. We do say, let the Russian people understand that they must become disciplined and organised, and then they will be able to withstand all the Tilsit peace treaties. The whole history of wars of liberation shows that when these wars involved large masses liberation came quickly. We say, since history marches forward in this way, we shall have to abandon peace for war, and this may happen within the next few days. Everyone must be prepared. I have not the slightest shadow of doubt that the Germans are preparing near Narva, if it is true that it has not been taken, as all the newspapers say; if not in Narva, then near Narva, if not in Pskov, then near Pskov, the German~ are grouping their regular army, making ready their railways, to capture Petrograd at the next jump. And this beast can jump very well. He has proved that. He will jump again. There is not a shadow of doubt about that. That is why we must be prepared, we must not brag, but must be able to take advantage of even a single day of respite, because we can take advantage of even one day’s respite to evacuate Petrograd, the capture of which will cause unprecedented suffering to hundreds of thousands of our proletarians. I say again that I am ready to sign, and that I consider it my duty to sign, a treaty twenty times, a hundred times more humiliating, in order to gain at least a few days in which to evacuate Petrograd, because by that I will alleviate the sufferings of the workers, who otherwise may fall under the yoke of the Germans; by that I facilitate the removal from Petrograd of all the materials, gunpowder, etc., which we need; because I am a defencist, because I stand for the preparation of an army, even in the most remote rear, where our present, demobilised, sick army is being healed.
We do not know how long the respite will last—we will try to take advantage of the situation. Perhaps the respite will last longer, perhaps it will last only a few days. Anything may happen, no one knows, or can know, because all the major powers are bound, restricted, compelled to fight on several fronts. Hoffmann’s behaviour is determined first by the need to smash the Soviet Republic; secondly, by the fact that he has to wage war on a number of fronts, and thirdly, by the fact that the revolution in Germany is maturing, is growing, and Hoffmann knows this. He cannot, as some assert, take Petrograd and Moscow this very minute. But he may do so tomorrow, that is quite possible. I repeat that at a moment when the army is obviously sick, when we are taking advantage of every opportunity, come what may, to get at least one day’s respite, we say that every serious revolutionary who is linked with the masses and who knows what war is, what the masses are, must discipline the masses, must heal them, must try to arouse them for a new war—every such revolutionary will admit that we are right, will admit that any disgraceful peace is proper, because it is in the interests of the proletarian revolution and the regeneration of Russia, because it will help to get rid of the sick organ. As every sensible man understands, by signing this peace treaty we do not put a stop to our workers’ revolution; everyone understands that by concluding peace with the Germans we do not stop rendering military aid; we are sending arms to the Finns, but not military units, which turn out to be unfit.
Perhaps we will accept war; perhaps tomorrow we will surrender even Moscow and then go over to the offensive; we will move our army against the enemy’s army if the necessary turn in the mood of the people takes place. This turn is developing and perhaps much time is required, but it will come, when the great mass of the people will not say what they are saying now. I am compelled to accept the harshest peace terms because I cannot say to myself that this time has arrived. When the time of regeneration arrives everyone will realise it, will see that the Russian is no fool; he sees, he will understand that for the time being we must refrain, that this slogan must be carried through—and this is the main task of our Party Congress and of the Congress of Soviets.
We must learn to work in a new way. That is immensely more difficult, but it is by no means hopeless. It will not break Soviet power if we do not break it ourselves by utterly senseless adventurism. The time will come when the people will say, we will not permit ourselves to be tortured any longer. But this will take place only if we do not agree to this adventure but prove able to work under harsh conditions and under the unprecedentedly humiliating treaty we signed the other day, because a war, or a peace treaty, cannot solve such a historical crisis. Because of their monarchic organisation the German people were fettered in 1807, when after several humiliating peace treaties, which were transformed into respites to be followed by new humiliations and new infringements, they signed the Peace of Tilsit. The Soviet organisation of the people makes our task easier.
We should have but one slogan—to learn the art of war properly and put the railways in order. To wage a socialist revolutionary war without railways would be rank treachery. We must produce order and we must produce all the energy and all the strength that will produce the best that is in the revolution.
Grasp even an hour’s respite if it is given you, in order to maintain contact with the remote rear and there create new armies. Abandon illusions for which real events have punished you and will punish you more severely in the future. An epoch of most grievous defeats is ahead of us, it is with us now, we must be able to reckon with it, we must be prepared for persistent work in conditions of illegality, in conditions of downright slavery to the Germans; it is no use painting it in bright colours, it is a real Peace of Tilsit. If we are able to act in this way, then, in spite of defeats, we shall be able to say with absolute certainty—victory will be ours. (Applause.)
3. Resolution On War And Peace[edit source]
The Congress recognises the necessity to confirm the extremely harsh, humiliating peace treaty with Germany that has been concluded by Soviet power in view of our lack of an army, in view of the most unhealthy state of the demoralised army at the front, in view of the need to take advantage of any, even the slightest, possibility of obtaining a respite before imperialism launches its offensive against the Soviet Socialist Republic.
In the present period of the era that has begun, the era of the socialist revolution, numerous military attacks on Soviet Russia by the imperialist powers (both from the West and from the East) are historically inevitable. The historical inevitability of such attacks at a time when both internal, class relations and international relations are extremely tense, can at any moment, even immediately, within the next few days, lead to fresh imperialist aggressive wars against the socialist movement in general and against the Russian Socialist Soviet Republic in particular.
The Congress therefore declares that it recognises the primary and fundamental task of our Party, of the entire vanguard of the class-conscious proletariat and of Soviet power, to be the adoption of the most energetic, ruthlessly determined and Draconian measures to improve the self-discipline and discipline of the workers and peasants of Russia, to explain the inevitability of Russia’s historic advance towards a socialist, patriotic war of liberation, to create everywhere soundly co-ordinated mass organisations held together by a single iron will, organisations that are capable of concerted, valorous action in their day-to-day efforts and especially at critical moments in the life of the people, and, lastly, to train systematically and comprehensively in military matters and military operations the entire adult population of both sexes.
The Congress considers the only reliable guarantee of consolidation of the socialist revolution that has been victorious in Russia to be its conversion into a world working-class revolution.
The Congress is confident that the step taken by Soviet power in view of the present alignment of forces in the world arena was, from the standpoint of the interests of the world revolution, inevitable and necessary.
Confident that the working-class revolution is maturing persistently in all belligerent countries and is preparing the full and inevitable defeat of imperialism, the Congress declares that the socialist proletariat of Russia will support the fraternal revolutionary movement of the proletariat of all countries with all its strength and with every means at its disposal.
4. Speeches Against Trotsky’s Amendments to the Resolution on War and Peace[edit source]
March 8 (Morning)
Comrades, in my speech I have already said that neither I nor those who support me consider it possible to accept this amendment. We must in no way bind our hands in any strategic manoeuvre. Everything depends on the relationship of forces and the time of the attack against us by these or those imperialist countries, the time when the rehabilitation of our army, which is undoubtedly beginning reaches the point when we shall be in a position and obliged not merely to refrain from concluding peace but to declare war. Instead of the amendments which Comrade Trotsky proposes, I am ready to accept the following:
First, to say—and this I shall certainly uphold—that the present resolution is not to be published in the press but that a communication should be made only about the ratification of the treaty.
Secondly, in the forms of publication and content the Central Committee shall have the right to introduce changes in connection with a possible offensive by the Japanese.
Thirdly, to say that the Congress will empower the CC of the Party both to break all the peace treaties and to declare war on any imperialist power or the whole world when the CC of the Party considers that the appropriate moment for this has come.
We must give the CC full power to break the treaties at any moment but this does not in any way imply that we shall break them just now, in the situation that exists today. At the present time we must not bind our hands in any way. The words that Comrade Trotsky proposes to introduce will gain the votes of those who are against ratification in general, votes for a middle course which will create afresh a situation in which not a single worker, not a single soldier, will understand anything in our resolution.
At the present time we shall endorse the necessity of ratifying the treaty and we shall empower the Central Committee to declare war at any moment, because an attack against us is being prepared, perhaps from three sides; Britain or France wants to take Archangel from us—it is quite possible they will, but in any case we ought not to hamper our central institution in any way, whether in regard to breaking the peace treaty or in regard to declaring war. We are giving financial aid to the Ukrainians, we are helping them in so far as we can. In any case we must not bind ourselves to not signing any peace treaty. In an epoch of growing wars, coming one after the other, new combinations grow up. The peace treaty is entirely a matter of vital manoeuvring—either we stand by this condition of manoeuvring or we formally bind our hands in advance in such a way that it will be impossible to move; neither making peace nor waging war will be possible.
It seems to me that I have said: no, I cannot accept this. This amendment makes a hint, it expresses what Comrade Trotsky wants to say. There should be no hints in the resolution.
The first point says that we accept ratification of the treaty, considering it essential to utilise every, even the smallest, possibility of a breathing-space before imperialism attacks the Soviet Socialist Republic. In speaking of a breathing space, we do not forget that an attack on our Republic is still going on. There you have my opinion, which I stressed in my reply to the debate.
5. Speech Against The Statement Of The “Left Communist” Group In Support Of Trotsky’s Amendment[edit source]
I am unable to give an immediate answer to Comrade Radek’s polemic—since I am not voting, I cannot give grounds for my vote. According to the usual procedure, I cannot reply; I do not want to hold up the Congress by requesting to be given the floor in order to reply to this polemic. I merely remind you, therefore, of what was said in my reply to the debate and, secondly, register my protest against a speech on grounds for voting being turned into a polemic to which I am not in a position to reply.
6. Addendum To The Resolution On War And Peace March 8[edit source]
The Congress deems it essential not to publish the resolution that has been adopted and requires of all Party members that they keep this resolution secret. The only communication to be made to the press—and that not today but on the instructions of the Central Committee—will be that the Congress is in favour of ratification.
Furthermore, the Congress lays special stress on the authority granted to the Central Committee to denounce at any moment all peace treaties concluded with imperialist and bourgeois states, and also to declare war on them.
Published according tothe manuscript
7. Speech Against Zinoviev’s Amendment To The Addendum To The Resolution On War And Peace[edit source]
I think, comrades, that there is no need for this amendment which Comrade Zinoviev has moved. I hope that only members of the Party are in the hall; in view of the state importance of the question, I think that we can adopt a decision to take the personal signature of everyone present in this hall.
This is by no means a superfluous measure; we are in conditions in which military secrets become very important questions, the most essential questions, for the Russian Republic. If we say in the press that the Congress has decided on ratification there cannot be any misunderstanding. I only propose that this should not be voted on just now because there may be changes: further information should reach us today. We have taken special measures to obtain information from the North-East and the South—this news may cause some change. Since the Congress agrees that we must manoeuvre in the interests of a revolutionary war—will even empower the Central Committee to declare war—it is obvious that we have the agreement of both sections of the Party on this; the dispute was only over whether or not to continue the war without any respite. I consider that in moving this amendment I am saying something indisputable for the majority and for the opposition; I think that there cannot be any other interpretations. I consider it more practical merely to confirm that it must be kept secret. And in addition, to adopt supplementary measures and on this account to take the personal signature of each person present in the hall.
8. Proposal Concerning The Resolution On War And Peace[edit source]
In view of the fact that the resolution has been distributed, can we not at once adopt a decision that everyone who has received a copy should bring it to this table immediately? That is one means of preserving a military secret.
I ask for the vote to be taken. Our Party centres consist of adult people who will understand that communications containing a military secret are made orally. Therefore I absolutely insist that all texts of the resolution in anyone’s possession shall immediately be put on the table here.
9. Report on the Review of the Programme and on Changing the Name of the Party[edit source]
Comrades, as you know, a fairly comprehensive Party discussion on changing the name of the Party has developed since April 1917 and the Central Committee has therefore been able to arrive at an immediate decision that will probably not give rise to considerable dispute—there may even be practically none at all; the Central Committee proposes to you that the name of our Party be changed to the Russian Communist Party, with the word “Bolsheviks” added to it in brackets. We all recognise the necessity for this addition because the word “Bolshevik” has not only acquired rights of citizenship in the political life of Russia but also throughout the entire foreign press, which in a general way keeps track of events in Russia. It has already been explained in our press that the name “Social-Democratic Party” is scientifically incorrect. When the workers set up their own state they realised that the old concept of democracy—bourgeois democracy—had been surpassed in the process of the development of our revolution. We have arrived at a type of democracy that has never existed anywhere in Western Europe. It has its prototype only in the Paris Commune, and Engels said with regard to the Paris Commune that it was not a state in the proper sense of the word. In short, since the working people themselves are undertaking to administer the state and establish armed forces that support the given state system, the special government apparatus is disappearing, the special apparatus for a certain state coercion is disappearing, and we cannot therefore uphold democracy in its old form.
On the other hand, as we begin socialist reforms we must have a clear conception of the goal towards which these reforms are in the final analysis directed, that is, the creation of a communist society that does not limit itself to the expropriation of factories, the land and the means of production, does not confine itself to strict accounting for, and control of, production and distribution of products, but goes farther towards implementing the principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”. That is why the name of Communist Party is the only one that is scientifically correct. The objection that it may cause us to be confused with the anarchists was immediately rejected by the Central Committee on the grounds that the anarchists never call themselves simply Communists but always add something to that name. In this respect we may mention the many varieties of socialism, but they do not cause the confusion of the Social-Democrats with social reformers, or national socialists, or any similar parties.
On the other hand, the most important argument in favour of changing the name of the Party is that up to now the old official socialist parties in all the leading European countries have still not got rid of their intoxication with social-chauvinism and social-patriotism that led to the complete collapse of European official socialism during the present war, so that up to now almost all official socialist parties have been a real hindrance to the working-class revolutionary socialist movement, a real encumbrance to it. And our Party, which at the present time undoubtedly enjoys the greatest sympathy of the masses of the working people of all countries—our Party must make the most decisive, sharp, clear and unambiguous statement that is possible to the effect that it has broken off connections with that old official socialism, for which purpose a change in the name of the Party will be the most effective means.
Further, comrades, the much more difficult question was that of the theoretical part of the Programme and of its practical and political part. As far as the theoretical part of the Programme is concerned, we have some material—the Moscow and Petrograd symposia on the review of the Programme, which have been published; the two main theoretical organs of our Party, Prosveshcheniye published in Petrograd, and Spartak published in Moscow, have carried articles substantiating certain trends in changing the theoretical part of the Programme of our Party. In this sphere we have a certain amount of material. Two main points of view are to be seen which, in my opinion, do not diverge, at any rate radically, on matters of principle; one point of view, the one I defended, is that we have no reason to reject the old theoretical part of our Programme, and that it would be actually incorrect to do so. We have only to add to it an analysis of imperialism as the highest stage of the development of capitalism and also an analysis of the era of the socialist revolution, proceeding from the fact that the era of the socialist revolution has begun. Whatever may be the fate of our revolution, of our contingent of the international proletarian army, whatever may be the future complications of the revolution, the objective situation of the imperialist countries embroiled in a war that has reduced the most advanced countries to starvation, ruin and barbarity, that situation, in any case, is hopeless. And here I must repeat what Frederick Engels said thirty years ago, in 1887, when appraising the probable prospects of a European war. He said that crowns would lie around in Europe by the dozen and nobody would want to pick them up; he said that incredible ruin would fall to the lot of the European countries, and that there could be only one outcome to the horrors of a European war -- he put it this way—“either the victory of the working class or the creation of conditions that would make that victory possible and necessary”. Engels expressed himself on this score with exceptional precision and caution. Unlike those people who distort Marxism and offer their belated pseudo-philosophising about socialism being impossible in conditions of ruin, Engels realised full well that every war, even in an advanced society, would create not only devastation, barbarity, torment, calamities for the masses, who would drown in blood, and that there could be no guarantee that it would lead to the victory of socialism; he said it would be “either the victory of the working class or the creation of conditions that would make that victory possible and necessary”, i.e., that there was, consequently, the possibility of a number of difficult stages of transition in view of the tremendous destruction of culture and the means of production, but that the result could be only the rise of the working class, the vanguard of all working people, and the beginning of its taking over power into its own hands for the creation of a socialist society. For no matter to what extent culture has been destroyed, it cannot be removed from history; it will be difficult to restore but no destruction will ever mean the complete disappearance of that culture. Some part of it, some material remains of that culture will be indestructible, the difficulties will be only in restoring it. There you have one point of view—that we must retain the old Programme and add to it an analysis of imperialism and of the beginning of the social revolution.
I expressed that point of view in the draft Programme that I have published. Another draft was published by Comrade Sokolnikov in the Moscow symposium. The second point of view has been expressed in our private conversations, in particular by Comrade Bukharin, and by Comrade V. Smirnov in the press, in the Moscow symposium. This point of view is that the old theoretical part of our Programme should be completely or almost completely eliminated and replaced by a new part that does not analyse the development of commodity production and capitalism, as the present Programme does, but analyses the contemporary, highest stage of capitalist development—imperialism—and the immediate transition to the epoch of the social revolution. I do not think that these two points of view diverge radically and in principle, but I shall defend my point of view. It seems to me that it would be theoretically incorrect to eliminate the old programme that analyses the development from commodity production to capitalism. There is nothing incorrect in it. That is how things were and how they are, for commodity production begot capitalism and capitalism led to imperialism. Such is the general historical perspective, and the fundamentals of socialism should not be forgotten. No matter what the further complications of the struggle may be, no matter what occasional zigzags we may have to contend with (there will be very many of them— we have seen from experience what gigantic turns the history of the revolution has made, and so far it is only in our own country; matters will be much more complicated and proceed much more rapidly, the rate of development will be more furious and the turns will be more intricate when the revolution becomes a European revolution)—in order not to lose our way in these zigzags, these sharp turns in history, in order to retain the general perspective, to be able to see the scarlet thread that joins up the entire development of capitalism and the entire road to socialism, the road we naturally imagine as straight, and which we must imagine as straight in order to see the beginning, the continuation and the end—in real life it will never be straight, it will be incredibly involved—in order not to lose our way in these twists and turns, in order not to get lost at times when we are taking steps backward, times of retreat and temporary defeat or when history or the enemy throws us back—in order not to get lost, it is, in my opinion, important not to discard our old, basic Programme; the only theoretically correct line is to retain it. Today we have reached only the first stage of transition from capitalism to socialism here in Russia. History has not provided us with that peaceful situation that was theoretically assumed for a certain time, and which is desirable for us, and which would enable us to pass through these stages of transition speedily. We see immediately that the civil war has made many things difficult in Russia, and that the civil war is interwoven with a whole series of wars. Marxists have never forgotten that violence must inevitably accompany the collapse of capitalism in its entirety and the birth of socialist society. That violence will constitute a period of world history, a whole era of various kinds of wars, imperialist. wars, civil wars inside countries the intermingling of the two, national wars liberating the nationalities oppressed by the imperialists and by various combinations of imperialist powers that will inevitably enter into various alliances in the epoch of tremendous state-capitalist and military trusts and syndicates. This epoch, an epoch of gigantic cataclysms, of mass decisions forcibly imposed by war, of crises, has begun—that we can see clearly—and it is only the beginning. We therefore have no reason to discard everything bearing on the definition of commodity production in general, of capitalism in gen- eral. We have only just taken the first steps towards shaking off capitalism altogether and beginning the transition to socialism. We do not know and we cannot know how many stages of transition to socialism there will be. That depends on when the full-scale European socialist revolution begins and on whether it will deal with its enemies and enter upon the smooth path of socialist development easily and rapidly or whether it will do so slowly. We do not know this, and the programme of a Marxist party must be based on facts that have been established with absolute certainty. The power of our Programme—the programme that has found its confirmation in all the complications of the revolution—is in that alone. Marxists must build up their programme on this basis alone. We must proceed from facts that have been established with absolute certainty, facts that show how the development of exchange and commodity production became a dominant historical phenomenon throughout the world, how it led to capitalism and capitalism developed into imperialism; that is an absolutely definite fact that must first and foremost be recorded in our Programme. That imperialism begins the era of the social revolution is also a fact, one that is obvious to us, and about which we must speak clearly. By stating this fact in our Programme we are holding high the torch of the social revolution before the whole world, not as an agitational speech, but as a new Programme that says to the peoples of Western Europe, “Here is what you and we have gathered from the experience of capitalist development. This is what capitalism was, this is how it developed into imperialism, and here is the epoch of the social revolution that is beginning, and in which it is our lot to play, chronologically, the first role.” We shall proclaim this manifesto before all civilised countries; it will not only be a fervent appeal but will be substantiated with absolute accuracy and will derive from facts recognised by all socialist parties. It will make all the clearer the contradiction between the tactics of those parties that have now betrayed socialism and the theoretical premises which we all share, and which have entered the flesh and blood of every class-conscious worker—the rise of capitalism and its development into imperialism. On the eve of imperialist wars the congresses at Chemnitz and Basle passed resolutions defining imperialism, and there is a flagrant contradiction between that definition and the present tactics of the social-traitors.. We must, therefore, repeat that which is basic in order to show the working people of Western Europe all the more clearly what we accuse their leaders of.
Such is the basis which I consider to be the only theoretically correct one on which to build a programme. The abandoning of the analysis of commodity production and capitalism as though it were old rubbish is not dictated by the historical nature of what is now happening, since we have not gone farther than the first steps in the transition from capitalism to socialism, and our transition is made more intricate by features that are specific to Russia and do not exist in most civilised countries. And so it is not only possible but inevitable that the stages of transition will be different in Europe; it would be theoretically incorrect to turn all attention to specific national stages of transition that are essential to us but may not be essential in Europe. We must begin with the general basis of the development of commodity production, the transition to capitalism and the growth of capitalism into imperialism. In this way we shall occupy and strengthen a theoretical position from which nobody without betraying socialism can shift us. From this we draw the equally inevitable conclusion—the era of the social revolution is beginning.
We draw this conclusion without departing from our basis of definitely proved facts.
Following this, our task is to define the Soviet type of state. I have tried to outline theoretical views on this question in my book The State and Revolution. It seems to me that the Marxist view on the state has been distorted in the highest degree by the official socialism that is dominant in Western Europe, and that this has been splendidly confirmed by the experience of the Soviet revolution and the establishment of the Soviets in Russia. There is much that is crude and unfinished in our Soviets, there is no doubt about that, it is obvious to everyone who examines their work; but what is important, has historical value and is a step forward in the world development of socialism, is that they are a new type of state. The Paris Commune was a matter of a few weeks, in one city, without the people being conscious of what they were doing. The Commune was not understood by those who created it; they established the Commune by following the unfailing instinct of the awakened people, and neither of the groups of French socialists was conscious of what it was doing. Because we are standing on the shoulders of the Paris Commune and the many years of development of German Social-Democracy, we have conditions that enable us to see clearly what we are doing in creating Soviet power. Despite all the crudity and lack of discipline that exist in the Soviets—this is a survival of the petty-bourgeois nature of our country—despite all that the new type of state has been created by the masses of the people. It has been functioning for months and not weeks, and not in one city, but throughout a tremendous country, populated by several nations. This type of Soviet power has shown its value since it has spread to Finland, a country that is different in every respect, where there are no Soviets but where there is, at any rate, a new type of power, proletarian power. This is, therefore, proof of what is theoretically regarded as indisputable—that Soviet power is a new type of state without a bureaucracy, without police, without a regular army, a state in which bourgeois democracy has been replaced by a new democracy, a democracy that brings to the fore the vanguard of the working people, gives them legislative and executive authority, makes them responsible for military defence and creates state machinery that can re-educate the masses.
In Russia this has scarcely begun and has begun badly. If we are conscious of what is bad in what we have begun we shall overcome it, provided history gives anything like a decent time to work on that Soviet power. I am therefore of the opinion that a definition of the new type of state should occupy an outstanding place in our Programme. Unfortunately we had to work on our Programme in the midst of governmental work and under conditions of such great haste that we were not even able to convene our commission, to elaborate an official draft programme. What has been distributed among the delegates is only a rough sketch, and this will be obvious to everyone. A fairly large amount of space has been allotted in it to the question of Soviet power, and I think that it is here that the international significance of our Programme will make itself felt. I think it would be very wrong of us to confine the international significance of our revolution to slogans, appeals, demonstrations, manifestos, etc. That is not enough. We must show the European workers exactly what we have set about, how we have set about it, how it is to be understood; that will bring them face to face with the question of how socialism is to be achieved. They must see for themselves—the Russians have started on something worth doing; if they are setting about it badly we must do it better. For that purpose we must provide as much concrete material as possible and say what we have tried to create that is new. We have a new type of state in Soviet power; we shall try to outline its purpose and structure, we shall try to explain why this new type of democracy in which there is so much that is chaotic and irrational, to explain what makes up its living spirit—the transfer of power to the working people, the elimination of exploitation and the machinery of suppression. The state is the machinery of suppression. The exploiters must be suppressed, but they cannot be suppressed by police, they must be suppressed by the masses themselves, the machinery must be linked with the masses, must represent them as the Soviets do. They are much closer to the masses, they provide an opportunity to keep closer to the masses, they provide greater opportunities for the education of those masses. We know very well that the Russian peasant is anxious to learn; and we want him to learn, not from books, but from his own experience. Soviet power is machinery, machinery that will enable the masses to begin right away learning to govern the state and organise production on a nation-wide scale. It is a task of tremendous difficulty. It is, however, historically important that we are setting about its fulfilment, and not only from the point of view of our one country; we are calling upon European workers to help. We must give a concrete explanation of our Programme from precisely that common point of view. That is why we consider it a continuation of the road taken by the Paris Commune. That is why we are confident that the European workers will be able to help once they have entered on that path. They will do what we are doing, but do it better, and the centre of gravity will shift from the formal point of view to the concrete conditions. In the old days the demand for freedom of assembly was a particularly important one, whereas our point of view on freedom of assembly is that nobody can now prevent meetings, and Soviet power has only to provide premises for meetings. General proclamations of broad principles are important to the bourgeoisie: “All citizens have freedom to assemble, but they must assemble in the open, we shall not give them premises.” But we say: “Fewer empty phrases, and more substance.” The palaces must be expropriated—not only the Taurida Palace, but many others as well—and we say nothing about freedom of assembly. That must be extended to all other points in the democratic programme. We must be our own judges. All citizens must take part in the work of the courts and in the government of the country. It is important for us to draw literally all working people into the government of the state. It is a task of tremendous difficulty. But socialism cannot be implemented by a minority, by the Party. It can be implemented only by tens of millions when they have learned to do it themselves. We regard it as a point in our favour that we are trying to help the masses themselves set about it immediately, and not to learn to do it from books and lectures. If we state these tasks of ours clearly and definitely we shall thereby give an impetus to the discussion of the question and its practical presentation by the European masses. We are perhaps making a bad job of what has to be done, but we are urging the masses to do what they have to. If what our revolution is doing is not accidental (and we are firmly convinced that it is not), if it is not the product of a Party decision but the inevitable product of any revolution that Marx called “popular”, i.e., a revolution that the masses themselves create by their slogans, their efforts and not by a repetition of the programme of the old bourgeois republic—if we present matters in this way, we shall have achieved the most important thing. And here we come to the question of whether we should abolish the difference between the maximum and minimum programmes. Yes and no. I do not fear this abolition, because the viewpoint we held in summer should no longer exist. I said then, when we still had not taken power, that it was “too soon”, but now that we have taken power and tested it, it is not too soon. In place of the old Programme we must now write a new Programme of Soviet power and not in any way reject the use of bourgeois parliamentarism. It is a utopia to think that we shall not be thrown back.
It cannot be denied historically that Russia has created a Soviet Republic. We say that if ever we are thrown back, while not rejecting the use of bourgeois parliamentarism—if hostile class forces drive us to that old position—we shall aim at what has been gained by experience, at Soviet power, at the Soviet type of state, at the Paris Commune type of state. That must be expressed in the Programme. In place of the minimum programme, we shall introduce the Programme of Soviet power. A definition of the new type of state must occupy an important place in our Programme.
It is obvious that we cannot elaborate a programme at the moment. We must work out its basic premises and hand them over to a commission or to the Central Committee for the elaboration of the main theses. Or still more simply—the elaboration is possible on the basis of the resolution on the Brest-Litovsk Conference, which has already provided theses. Such a definition of Soviet power should be given on the basis of the experience of the Russian revolution, and followed by a proposal for practical reforms. I think it is here, in the historical part, that mention should be made that the expropriation of the land and of industrial enterprises has begun. Here we shall present the concrete task of organising distribution, unifying the banks into one universal type and converting them into a network of state institutions covering the whole country and providing us with public book-keeping, accounting and control carried out by the population itself and forming the foundation for further socialist steps. I think that this part, being the most difficult, should be formulated as the concrete demands of our Soviet power—what we want to do at the moment, what reforms we intend to carry out in the sphere of banking policy, the organisation of production, the organisation of exchange, accountancy and control, the introduction of labour conscription, etc. When we are able to, we shall add what great or small measures or half-measures we have taken in that direction. Here we must state with absolute precision and clarity what has been begun and what has not been completed. We know full well that a large part of what has been begun has not been completed. Without any exaggeration, with full objectivity, without departing from the facts, we must state in our Programme what we have done and what we want to do. We shall show the European proletariat this truth and say, this must be done, so that they will say, such-and-such things the Russians are doing badly but we shall do them better. When this urge reaches the masses the socialist revolution will be invincible. The imperialist war is proceeding before the eyes of all people, a war that is nothing but a war of plunder. When the imperialist war exposes itself in the eyes of the world and becomes a war waged by all the imperialists against Soviet power, against socialism, it will give the proletariat of the West yet another push forward. That must be revealed, the war must be described as an alliance of the imperialists against the socialist movement . These are the general considerations that think should be shared with you, and on the basis of which I now make the practical proposal to exchange basic views on that question and then, perhaps, elaborate a few fundamental theses here on the spot, and, if that should be found difficult, give up the idea and hand the question of the Programme over to the Central Committee or to a special commission that will be instructed, on the basis of the material available and of the shorthand or secretaries’ detailed reports of the Congress, to draw up a Programme for the Party, which must immediately change its name. I am of the opinion that we can do this at the present time, and I think everybody will agree that with our Programme in the editorially unprepared state in which events found it, there is nothing else we can do. I am sure we can do this in a few weeks. We have a sufficient number of theoreticians in all the trends of our Party to obtain a programme in a few weeks. There may be much that is erroneous in it, of course, to say nothing of editorial and stylistic inaccuracies. because we have not got months in which to settle down to it with the composure that is necessary for editorial work.
We shall correct all these errors in the course of our work in the full confidence that we are giving Soviet power an opportunity to implement the programme. If we at least state precisely, without departing from reality, that Soviet power is a new type of state, a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, that we present democracy with different tasks, that we have translated the tasks of socialism from a general abstract formula—“the expropriation of the expropriators”—into such concrete formulas as the nationalisation of the banks and the land, that will be an important part of the Programme.
The land question must be reshaped so that we can see in it the first steps of the small peasantry wanting to take the side of the proletariat and help the socialist revolution, see how the peasants, for all their prejudices and all their old convictions, have set themselves the practical task of the transition to socialism. This is a fact, although we shall not impose it on other countries. The peasantry have shown, not in words but by their deeds, that they wish to help and are helping the proletariat that has taken power to put socialism into effect. It is wrong to accuse us of wanting to introduce socialism by force. We shall divide up the land justly, mainly from the point of view of the small farm. In doing this we give preference to communes and big labour co-operatives. We support the monopolising of the grain trade. We support, the peasantry have said, the confiscation of banks and factories. We are prepared to help the workers in implementing socialism. I think a fundamental law on the socialisation of the land should be published in all languages. This will be done, if it has not been done already. That is an idea we shall state concretely in the Programme—it must be expressed theoretically without departing one single step from concretely established facts. It will be done differently in the West. Perhaps we are making mistakes, but we hope that the proletariat of the West will correct them. And we appeal to the European proletariat to help us in our work.
In this way we can work out our Programme in a few weeks, and the mistakes we make will be corrected as time goes on—we shall correct them ourselves. Those mistakes will be as light as feathers compared with the positive results that will be achieved.
10. Resolution on Changing the Name of the Party and the Party Programme[edit source]
The Congress resolves that our Party (the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party of Bolsheviks) be named hence forth the Russian Communist Party, with the word “Bolsheviks” added in brackets.
The Congress resolves to change the Programme of our Party, re-editing the theoretical part or adding to it a definition of imperialism and the era of the international socialist revolution that has begun.
Following this, the change in the political part of our Programme must consist in the most accurate and comprehensive definition possible of the new type of state, the Soviet Republic, as a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat and as a continuation of those achievements of the world working-class revolution which the Paris Commune began. The Programme must show that our Party does not reject the use even of bourgeois parliamentarism, should the course of the struggle push us back, for a time, to this historical stage which our revolution has now passed. But in any case and under all circumstances the Party will strive for a Soviet Republic as the highest, from the standpoint of democracy, type of state, as a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, of abolition of the exploiters’ yoke and of suppression of their resistance.
The economic, including agrarian, and educational and other parts of our Programme must be recast in the same spirit and direction. The centre of gravity must be a precise definition of the economic and other reforms begun by our Soviet power, with a definite statement of the immediate definite tasks which Soviet power has set itself, and which proceed from the practical steps we have already taken towards expropriating the expropriators.
The Congress instructs the special commission to compile, with the utmost urgency, a programme for our Party based on the points laid down and to have it approved as the Programme of our Party.
Pravda No. 45, March 9, 1918; Published according to the manuscript.
11. Proposal Concerning The Revision Of The Party Programme[edit source]
March 8 (Evening)
Comrades, allow me to read the draft of a resolution which formulates a somewhat different proposal, but which in substance is somewhat similar to what the last speaker has said. I request the Congress’s attention to the following resolution. (He reads it.)
Comrades, the distinguishing feature of this proposal is that I want first of all to defend my idea of accelerating the publication of the Programme and directly instruct the Central Committee to publish it or set up a special commission.
The tempo of development is so furious that we ought not to delay. In view of the difficulties of the present time, we shall have a programme in which there will be many mistakes, but that does not matter—the next Congress will correct it, even if it is a too rapid correction of the Programme; but events move so swiftly that if it is necessary to make a series of alterations to the Programme, we shall make them. Our Programme now will be constructed not so much according to the books as from practice, from the experience of Soviet power. Accordingly, I believe that it is in our interests to approach the international proletariat not with ardent appeals, not with exhortatory speeches at meetings, not with shouts, but with the precise, concrete Programme of our Party. Let the Programme be less satisfactory than one which would result from being worked on in a number of commissions and endorsed by the Congress.
I venture to hope that we shall pass this resolution unanimously because I have avoided the disagreement to which Comrade Bukharin has referred; I have formulated it in such a way as to leave the question open. We can hope that if too great changes do not occur we shall be in a position to have a new programme which will be a precise document for the All-Russia Party, and shall not be in the nasty position in which I found myself when at the last Congress one of the Left Swedes asked me: “But what is the programme of your Party—is it the same as that of the Mensheviks?” You ought to have seen the expression of surprise on the face of this Swede, who fully understood how immensely far we had gone away from the Mensheviks. We cannot allow such a monstrous contradiction to remain. I think that this will be of practical benefit to the international working-class movement, and that what we shall gain will undoubtedly outweigh the fact that the programme will have mistakes.
That is why I propose that this be accelerated, without being in the least afraid of the Congress having to correct it.
12. Speech on Mgeladze’s Proposal for Drawing the Chief Party Organisations Into the Work of Drafting the Party Programme[edit source]
March 8 (Evening)
Under the conditions in which Russia is at present—in a state of civil war, of being cut up into parts—this is impermissible. It goes without saying that if it is at all possible the commission which will make corrections will print them immediately, and on each occasion the local organisations will be able to express their opinion and must do so, but formally to bind ourselves to do something that cannot be carried out in the near future will entail still greater delay than a congress.
13. Speech Against Larin’s Amendment To The Name Of The Party[edit source]
March 8 (Evening)
Comrades, I agree with Comrade Larin that the change of title and the dropping of the term Labour Party, will certainly be made use of, but that should not worry us. If we were to reckon with every drawback, we should be immersed in trifles. What we are doing is to return to a good old model that is known throughout the world. We all know the Manifesto of the Communist Party the whole world knows it; the purpose of the correction is not to state that the proletariat is the only class which is revolutionary to the end, and that all other classes, including the working peasantry, can be revolutionary only in so far as they come over to the point of view of the proletariat. That is so fundamental, such a world-renowned thesis of the Communist Manifesto, that there cannot be any honest misunderstandings here, and as for dishonest ones, there is no keeping up with false interpretations in any case. That is why we must return now to the old, good, undoubtedly correct model which has played its part in history, spreading to all countries, to the whole world; I think that there are no grounds for departing from this best of all models.
14. Speech Against Pelshe’s Amendment To The Resolution On The Party Programme[edit source]
March 8 (Evening)
I think that the last speaker is wrong. The masses are not children and they understand that the struggle is extremely serious. They saw how we were thrown back previously, for example in July. It is impossible to delete these words. We ought not in any way to give the impression that we attach absolutely no value to bourgeois parliamentary institutions. They are a huge advance on what preceded them. By rejecting these words we create an impression of something that does not yet exist—of the absolute stability of the stage achieved. We know that this is not so yet. It will be so when the international movement gives its support I am ready to delete the words “under no circumstances” it is possible to leave the words “the Party will not reject the use”, but we cannot leave the way open for a purely anarchist denial of bourgeois parliamentarism. These are stages directly linked one with another, and any repulse can throw us back to that stage. I do not consider that this would cause the masses to be despondent. If by the masses we mean people who are politically quite uneducated—they will not understand, but the Party members and sympathisers will understand, they will realise that we do not regard the positions won as definitely consolidated. If by a gigantic effort of will we arouse the energy of all classes, and consolidate this position, then we shall cease to recall the past But that requires the support of Europe. But to say now that we may work under worse circumstances will not result in any despondency among the masses.
15. Speech Against Bukharin’s Amendment To The Resolution On The Party Programme[edit source]
March 8 (Evening)
I cannot agree at all to Comrade Bukharin’s amendment. The Programme characterises imperialism and the era of social revolution that has begun. The era of social revolution has begun—this has been established with absolute accuracy. What, however, does Comrade Bukharin want?—That we should give a description of socialist society in its developed form, i.e., communism. Here he is inaccurate. At present we certainly uphold the state and to say we should give a description of socialism in its developed form where the state will cease to exist—you couldn’t do anything about that except say that then the principle would be realised: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. But this is still a long way off, and to say that means not saying anything except that we have no firm ground to go on. We shall arrive there in the long run if we reach socialism. It is enough for us to set to work on what we have said. If we were to do this it would be a tremendous historic achievement. We cannot give a description of socialism; what socialism will be like when its completed forms are arrived at—this we do not know, we cannot tell. To say that the era of social revolution has begun, that we have done this or that, and that we want to do this or that—this we do know and will say, and it will show the European workers that we do not in any way exaggerate, so to speak, our strength; this is what we have begun to do and what we intend to do. But as to knowing at the present time what social- ism will look like when completed—this we do not know. Theoretically, in theoretical works, in articles, speeches and lectures, we shall expound the view that the struggle against the anarchists is being waged by Kautsky incorrectly, but we cannot put this in the Programme because we do not yet have the data for a description of socialism. The bricks of which socialism will be composed have not yet been made. We cannot say anything further, and we should be as cautious and accurate as possible. In that and only in that will lie our Programme’s power of attraction. But if we advance the slightest claim to something that we cannot give, the power of our Programme will be weakened. It will be suspected that our Programme is only a fantasy. The Programme describes what we have begun to do and the succeeding steps that we wish to take. We are not in a position to give a description of socialism and it was incorrect that this task was formulated.
Since the formulation was not in writing, misunderstanding, of course, is possible. But Comrade Bukharin did not convince me. The name of our Party indicates sufficiently clearly that we are advancing towards complete communism, thus we are putting forward such abstract propositions as that each of us will work according to his ability and will receive according to his needs, without any military control and compulsion. It is premature to speak about this now. Just when will the state wither away? We shall have managed to convene more than two congresses before the time comes to say: see how our state is withering away. It is too early for that. To proclaim the withering away of the state prematurely would distort the historical perspective.
16. Speech On The Question Of Elections To The Central Committee March 8 (Evening)[edit source]
Lomov very cleverly referred to my speech in which I demanded that the Central Committee should be capable of pursuing a uniform line. This does not mean that all those in the Central Committee should be of one and the same opinion. To hold that view would be to go towards a split; therefore I proposed that the Congress should not accept this declaration, in order to enable the comrades, after consulting their local organisations, to think over their decision. I, too, was in the Central Committee in such a position at the time when a proposal not to sign the peace treaty was adopted, and I kept silent, without in any way closing my eyes to the fact that I was not accepting responsibility for it. Every member of the Central Committee is able to disclaim responsibility without ceasing to be a member and without raising an uproar. Of course, comrades, in certain circumstances it is permissible, sometimes it is inevitable, but that this should be necessary now with the present organisation of Soviet power, which enables us to check how far we are keeping contact with the masses—this I doubt. I think that if the question of Vinnichenko arises, the comrades can defend their point of view without resigning from the Central Committee. If we are going to uphold the standpoint of preparing for a revolutionary war and of manoeuvring, it is necessary to enter the Central Committee; one can state that disagreements have arisen from below, we have an absolute right to make a statement about that. There is not the slightest danger that history will impose responsibility on Uritsky and Lomov for not rejecting the title of members of the Central Committee. We must try to find some kind of restraint that will do away with the fashion for resigning from the Central Committee. It should be stated that the Congress expresses the hope that comrades will formulate their disagreement through their protests but not by resigning from the Central Committee, and that the Congress, taking its statement into account, will vote against removal of the candidatures of the group of comrades and will hold the elections, calling on them to take back their declarations.
17. Resolution On The Refusal Of The “Left Communists” To Be Members Of The Central Committee[edit source]
The Congress is of the opinion that a refusal to enter the Central Committee in the situation at present obtaining in the Party is particularly undesirable, since such a refusal is in general impermissible in principle to those who desire the unity of the Party, and would today be a double threat to unity.
The Congress declares that everyone can and should deny his responsibility for any step taken by the Central Committee, if he does not agree with it, by means of a declaration to that effect but not by leaving the Central Committee.
The Congress is firm in the hope that the comrades will, after a consultation with the mass organisations, withdraw their resignation; the Congress will, therefore, carry through elections without taking the statement of resignation into consideration.
Published according to the manuscript
18. Rough Outline Of The Draft Programme[edit source]
My draft to be taken as the basis (pamphlet, p.19 et seq.).
The theoretical part to remain, after discarding the last paragraph of the first part (p. 22 of the pamphlet, from the words “The urgent task of the day” to the words “the substance of the socialist revolution”,i.e., 5 lines).
In the next paragraph (p. 22), beginning with the words “The fulfilment of this task”, insert the alteration indicated in the article “Concerning a Revision of the Party Programme” in Prosveshcheniye (No. 1-2, September-October 1917), p.93.***
In the same paragraph in two places insert instead of “social-chauvinism":
(1) “opportunism and social-chauvinism";
(2) “between opportunism and social-chauvinism, on the one hand, and the revolutionary internationalist struggle of the proletariat for the realisation of the socialist system on the other.”
Further on, everything has to be re-written, approximately as follows:
The Revolution of October 25 (November 7), 1917 in Russia brought about the dictatorship of the proletariat, which has been supported by the poor peasants or semi-proletarians.
This dictatorship confronts the Communist Party in Russia with the task of carrying through to the end, of completing, the expropriation of the landowners and bourgeoisie that has already begun, and the transfer of all factories, railways, banks, the fleet and other means of production and exchange to ownership by the Soviet Republic;
utilisation of the alliance of urban workers and poor peasants, which has already abolished private ownership of land, and utilisation of the law on the transitional form between small-peasant farming and socialism, which modern ideologists of the peasantry that has put itself on the side of the proletarians have called socialisation of the land, for a gradual but steady transition to joint tillage and large-scale socialist agriculture;
consolidation and further development of the Federative Republic of Soviets as an immeasurably higher and more progressive form of democracy than bourgeois parliamentarism, and as the sole type of state corresponding, on the basis of the experience of the Paris Commune of 1871 and equally of the experience of the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917-18, to the transitional period between capitalism and socialism, i.e., to the period of the dictatorship of the proletariat;
thorough utilisation in every way of the torch of world socialist revolution lit in Russia in order, by paralysing the attempts of the imperialist bourgeois states to intervene in the internal affairs of Russia or to unite for direct struggle and war against the socialist Soviet Republic, to carry the revolution into the most advanced countries and in general into all countries.
Ten Theses On Soviet Power
Consolidation and Development of Soviet Power
The consolidation and development of Soviet power as the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat and poor peasantry (semi-proletarians), a form already tested by experience and brought to the fore by the mass movement and the revolutionary struggle.
The consolidation and development must consist in the accomplishment (a broader, more general and planned accomplishment) of those tasks which historically devolve on this form of state power, on this new type of state, namely:
(1) union and organisation of the working and exploited masses oppressed by capitalism, and only them, i.e., only the workers and poor peasantry, semi-proletarians, with automatic exclusion of the exploiting classes and rich representatives of the petty bourgeoisie;
(2) union of the most vigorous, active, class-conscious part of the oppressed classes, their vanguard, which must educate every member of the working population for independent participation in the management of the state, not theoretically but practically;
(4) (3) abolition of parliamentarism (as the separation of legislative from executive activity); union of legislative and executive state activity. Fusion of administration with legislation;
(3) (4) closer connection of the whole apparatus of state power and state administration with the masses than under previous forms of democracy;
(5) creation of an armed force of workers and peasants, one least divorced from the people (Soviets = armed workers and peasants). Organised character of nation-wide arming of the people, as one of the first steps towards arming the whole people;
(6) more complete democracy, through less formality and making election and recall easier;
(7) close (and direct) connection with occupations and with productive-economic units (elections based on factories, and on local peasant and handicraft areas). This close connection makes it possible to carry out profound socialist changes;
(8) (partly, if not wholly, covered by the preceding)—the possibility of getting rid of bureaucracy, of doing without it, the beginning of the realisation of this possibility
(9) transfer of the focus of attention in questions of democracy from formal recognition of a formal equality of the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, of poor and rich, to the prac- tical feasibility of the enjoyment of freedom (democracy) by the working and exploited mass of the population;
(10) the further development of the Soviet organisation of the state must consist in every member of a Soviet being obliged to carry out constant work in administering the state, alongside participation in meetings of the Soviet;—and furthermore in each and every member of the population being drawn gradually both into taking part in Soviet organisation (on the condition of subordination to organisations of the working people) and into serving in state administration.
The Fulfilment of These Tasks Requires:
a) in the political sphere: development of the Soviet Republic.
Advantages of Soviets (Prosveshcheniye, pp. 13-14); (six items);
extension of the Soviet Constitution in so far as the resistance of the exploiters ceases to the whole population;
federation of nations, as a transition to a conscious and closer unity of the working people, when they have learnt voluntarily to rise above national dissension;
necessarily ruthless suppression of the resistance of the exploiters; standards of “general” (i.e., bourgeois) democracy are subordinate to this aim, give way to it:
“Liberties” and democracy not for all, but for the working and exploited masses, to emancipate them from exploitation; ruthless suppression of exploiters;
NB: chief stress is shifted from formal recognition of liberties (such as existed under bourgeois parliamentarism) to actually ensuring the enjoyment of liberties by the working people who are overthrowing the exploiters, e.g., from recognition of freedom of assembly to the handing over of all the best halls and premises to the workers, from recognition of freedom of speech to the handing over of all the best printing presses to the workers, and so forth.
A brief enumeration of these “liberties” from the old minimum programme.
[Arming the workers and disarming the bourgeoisie.]
Transition through the Soviet state to the gradual abolition of the state by systematically drawing an ever greater number of citizens, and subsequently each and every citizen, into direct and daily performance of their share of the burdens of administering the state.
b) In the economic sphere:
Socialist organisation of production on the scale of the whole state: management by workers’ organisations (trade unions, factory committees, etc.) under the general leadership of Soviet power, which alone is sovereign.
The same for transport and distribution (at first state monopoly of “trade”, subsequently replacement, complete and final, of “trade” by planned, organised distribution through associations of trading and industrial office workers, under the leadership of Soviet power).
—Compulsory organisation of the whole population in consumer and producer communes.
While not (for the time being) abolishing money and not prohibiting individual purchase and sale transactions by individual families, we must, in the first place, make it obligatory by law to carry out all such transactions through the consumer and producer communes.
—An immediate start to be made on full realisation of universal compulsory labour service, with the most cautious and gradual extension of it to the small peasants who live by their own farming without wage labour;
the first measure, the first step towards universal compulsory labour service must be the introduction of consumers’ work (budget) books (compulsory introduction) for all well-to-do ( = persons with an income over 500 rubles per month, and then for owners of enterprises with wage-workers, for families with servants, etc.).
Buying and selling is also permissible not through one’s commune (during journeys, at markets, etc.), but with compulsory entry of the transaction (if above a definite sum) in the consumers’ work book.
—Complete concentration of banking in the hands of the state and of all financial operations of trade in the banks. Standardisation of banking current accounts; gradual transition to the compulsory keeping of current accounts in the bank, at first by the largest, and later by all the country’s enterprises. Compulsory deposit of money in the banks and transfer of money only through the banks.
—Standardisation of accounting and control over all production and distribution of output; this accounting and control must be carried out at first by workers’ organisations and subsequently by each and every member of the population.
—Organisation of competition between the various (all) consumer and producer communes of the country for steady improvement of organisation, discipline and labour productivity, for transition to superior techniques, for economising labour and materials, for gradually reducing the working day to six hours, and for gradually equalising all wages and salaries in all occupations and categories.
—Steady, systematic measures for (transition to Massenspeisung [A form of Public catering] replacement of the individual domestic economy of separate families by joint catering for large groups of families.
In the educational sphere
the old items, plus.
In the financial sphere
replacement of indirect taxes by a progressive income and property tax, and equally by deduction of a (definite) revenue from state monopolies. In this connection, remittance in kind of bread and other products to workers employed by the state in various forms of socially necessary labour.
Support of the revolutionary movement of the socialist proletariat in the advanced countries in the first instance.
Propaganda. Agitation. Fraternisation.
Ruthless struggle against opportunism and social-chauvinism.
Support of the democratic and revolutionary movement in all countries in general, and especially in the colonies and dependent countries.
Liberation of the colonies. Federation as a transition to voluntary fusion.
Kommunist No. 5, March 9, 1918; Published according to the manuscript;
- On April 18,1917, Milyukov, the Foreign Minister of the bourgeois Provisional Government, circulated a Note to the Allied Powers stating that the Provisional Government would observe all the tsarist treaties and undertook to continue the imperialist war. On April 20 the soldiers of the Petrograd garrison, on learning about Milyukov’s Note, demonstrated in the streets with the slogans “All power to the Soviets” and “Down with war”. On April 21 the Petrograd workers in response to a call made by the Bolshevik Party stopped work and held a demonstration. The chief demand of the 100,000 demonstrators was for peace. By confronting the broad masses with the question of “who to support?” and showing that only the working class by taking power could put an end to the war, the April demonstration hastened the development of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution. The bourgeoisie replied to it with the new manoeuvre of forming a coalition government in which Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries participated.
- Lenin refers to the demonstration in Petrograd of July 3-4 (16-17), 1917. Spontaneous demonstrations against the Provisional Government began in Vyborg District on July 3 (16). The 1st Machine-Gun Regiment was the first to demonstrate. It was joined by other army units and factory workers. The demonstration threatened to develop into an armed attack on the Provisional Government.
At this time the Bolshevik Party was against an armed uprising because it considered that the revolutionary crisis had not yet matured, that the army and the provinces were not ready to support an uprising in the capital. At a joint meeting of the Central Committee with the Petrograd Committee and the Military Organisation of the RSDLP(b) at 4 p. m. on July 3 (16), it was decided to refrain from armed actiom The Second Petrograd City Conference of Bolsheviks, which was being held simultaneously, took an analogous decision. The conference delegates went out to the factories and various districts of the city to restrain the masses from taking armed action. But the uprising had already begun and it could not be stopped.
Taking into account the mood of the massos, the Contral Committee in consultation with the Petrograd Committee and the Military Organisation decided late in the evening on July 3 (16) to participate in the demonstration in order to give it an organised and peaceful character. Lenin, who was not in Petrograd at the time, came straight to the capital when he heard what was happening. He arrived in the morning on July 4 (17). More than 500,000 people took part in the demonstration of July 4 (17), which was conducted under the main slogan of the Bolsheviks, “All power to the Soviets”.
With the knowledge and consent of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary Central Executive Committee, detachments of officers and officer cadets were sent against the peacefully demonstrating workers and soldiers, and opened fire on the demonstrators. Counter-revolutionary military units were recalled from the front to smash the revolutionary movement.
On the night of July 4 (17) the Bolshevik Central Committee decided to halt the demonstration. Late at night Lenin visited the Pravda editorial office to look at the current issue, half an hour after he left, the office was wrecked by a detachment of officer cadets and Cossacks.
The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, in effect, aided and abetted the counter-revolution. Having helped to smash the demonstration, they associated themselves with the bourgeoisie in attacking the Bolshevik Party. The Bolshevik newspapers Pravda, Soldatskaya Pravda and others were banned by the Provisional Government. Mass arrests, searches and pogroms began. The revolutionary units of the Petrograd garrison were withdrawn from the capital and sent to the front.
After the July Days the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government took over complete control of the country and the Soviets were reduced to the role of a helpless appendage. The period of dual power was over, the peaceful state of the revolution was also over. The Bolsheviks were now faced with the task of preparing an armed uprising for the overthrow of the Provisional Government.
- Kornilov revolt—a counter-revolutionary conspiracy organised in August 1917 by the Russian bourgeoisie and landowners and led by the tsarist general Kornilov. On August 25 Kornilov began with drawing troops from the front to march against Petrograd. In response to a Bolshevik appeal the common people rose against Kornilov. The workers of Petrograd took up arms and began to form detachments of Red Guards. The attempt at counter-revolution was quickly crushed and Kornilov himself arrested.
- The reference is to the defeatist position taken up by L. B. Kamenev, G. Y. Zinoviev, A. I. Rykov and certain other members of the Central Committee of the Party and the Soviet Government, who after the October Socialist Revolution supported the Socialist-Revolutionary demand for the setting up of a “homogeneous socialist government” (see present Resolution of CC of the RSDLP(b) on the Opposition and From the Central Committee of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks)).
- Kaledin, A. M. (1861-1918) was a tsarist general. At the end of 1917 and the beginning of 1918 he became one of the leaders of the monarchist counter-revolution and organiser of the Civil War against Soviet power on the River Don. When defeated in January 1918, he shot himself.
- This argument against the signing of the peace terms dictated by Germany was put forward by the “Left Communists” at a meeting of members of the Central Committee with Party workers on January 8 (21), 1918. V. V. Obolensky (N. Osinsky) asserted that “the German soldier will not agree to take part in an offensive”, and Y. A. Preobrazhensky tried to prove that the German army was “technically incapable of advancing: winter, no roads . . .”. The wrongness and harmfulness of such arguments was exposed by Lenin in his article The Revolutionary Phrase.
- Soon after the publication of Lenin’s Decree on Peace, which was passed by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, the Soviet Government sent a Note to the Entente powers proposing the immediate conclusion of an armistice on all fronts and the starting of peace negotiations. The refusal of the imperialists of the Entente to support the initiative of the Soviet Government and their active opposition to the conclusion of peace compelled the Council of People’s Commissars to begin separate peace negotiations with Germany. After preliminary negotiations and the conclusion of an armistice, the peace conference opened at Brest-Litovsk on December 9 (22), 1917. It was attended by a delegation from Soviet Russia and a delegation from the powers of the Quadruple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey). At the conference the Soviet delegation made a declaration, based on the propositions of the Decree on Peace, setting forth proposals for the conclusion of a just and democratic peace without annexations and indemnities. After going through a series of manoeuvres, the delegation from the German bloc stated that the Soviet proposals were inacceptable and on January 5 (18), 1918 offered Soviet Russia onerous and predatory peace terms stipulating that Poland, Lithuania and parts of Latvia, Estonia, the Ukraine and Byelorussia should be placed under German control.
On January 8 (21), 1918 at a meeting between members of the Central Committee and Party workers Lenin gave detailed arguments proving the need to conclude peace even on these onerous terms. These arguments were expounded in his “Theses on the Question of the Immediate Conclusion of a Separate and Annexationist Peace” (see present edition, Vol. 26, pp. 442-44). Questions of war and peace were discussed at meetings of the Central Committee on January 11 (24), January 19 (February 1), January 21 (February 3), and on February 18, 22, 23 and 24, 1918. To prevent the collapse of the peace negotiations and to stop the adventuristic policy of the “Left Communists” and Trotsky being put into effect, Lenin got the Central Committee of the Party to pass a decision on the need for sustaining the peace negotiations for as long as possible and signing the peace terms only if the Germans should present an ultimatum. On January 27 (February 9), however, when the Germans demanded in the form of an ultimatum that the Soviet delegation should sign the peace terms they had proposed on January 5 (18), Trotsky, who was leading the Soviet delegation at this stage, ignored the Central Committee’s decision and in spite of Lenin’s demand refused to sign the peace treaty while stating simultaneously that Russia would cease waging war and would demobilise her army.
The German imperialists took advantage of this. On February 18, German troops broke the armistice agreement and launched an offensive all along the Russo-German front. The same day, on Lenin’s insistence the Party Central Committee passed a decision to sign the peace treaty with Germany. But on February 22, imperialist Germany presented a fresh ultimatum stipulating even more onerous and humiliating peace terms: in addition to the territory they had occupied the Germans demanded that Soviet Russia should cede provinces of Latvia and Estonia that were not in German hands, and that she should conclude peace wlth the Ukrainian Central Rada, withdraw Soviet troops from the Ukraine and Finland, pay Germany a huge indemnity and demobilise her army. On February 23 the Central Committee came out in favour of Lenin’s proposal to conclude peace immediately on the terms proposed by Germany. On the morning of February 24, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and then the Council of People’s Commissars decided to accept the new peace terms, and this was immediately made known to the German Government. On March 1, 1918 the peace negotiations were reopened and the Peace Treaty was signed on March 3.
The revolution in Germany of November 1918 deposed Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Soviet Government was able to annul the Treaty of Brest.
- The Soviet Government published the secret diplomatic papers and the secret treaties between the tsarist government (and subsequently the bourgeois Provisional Government) of Russia and the governments of Britain, Franco, Italy, Japan, Austria-Hungary and otber imperialist powers, On November 10 (23), 1917 the newspapers began publishing these secret diplomatic papers and treaties, which afterwards appeared in the Collections of Secret Documents from the Archives of the Former Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Seven of these collections came out between December 1917 and February 1918.
- The reference is to the signed oath of loyalty to the tsar that was obligatory for deputies of the Third State Duma. Since refusal to take this oath meant losing the platform in the Duma that was needed to mobilise the proletariat for revolutionary struggle, the Social-Democrat deputies signed the oath along with the rest of the members of the Duma.
- The term “fleld revolution on a world-wide scale” was used by V. V. Obolensky (N. Osinsky) in the “Theses on the Question of War and Peace”, which he wrote for the meeting of the Party Central Committee on January 21 (February 3), 1918 and published on March 14 in the “Left Communist” newspaper Kommunist No. 8. Explaining what he meant by this term, Obolensky wrote: “Revolutionary war, as a field civil war, cannot resemble in character the regular military actions of national armies when they are carrying out strategic operations. . . . Military action assumes the character of guerrilla warfare (analogous to barricade fighting) and is mixed with class agitation.”
- Lenin appears to be referring to the period between the launching of the German offensive, on February 18, and the arrival of the Soviet delegation in Brest-Litovsk on February 28, 1918. The German offensive continued until March 3, the day the peace treaty was signed.
- The revolution in Finland which began on January 27, 1918 in response to a call from the leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Finland, deposed Svinhufvud’s bourgeois government and placed power in the hands of the workers. On January 29 a revolutionary government of Finland was set up in the shape of the Council of People’s Representatives, which included E. Gylling, O. W. Kuusinen, Y. Sirola, A. Taimi and othcrs. This government’s most important acts were the passing of a law making land less peasants sole owners of the land they tilled, the freeing of the poorest sections of the population of all taxes the expropriation of enterprises belonging to owners who had fled the country, and the setting up of state control over private banks.
The proletarian revolution was victorious, however, only in the south of Finland. The Svinhufvud government made good its losses in the north of the country, where a build-up of counter-revolutionary forces took place, and appealed to the government of Kaiser Germany for aid. On May 2, 1918 German armed forces intervened and the workers’ revolution was crushed after a bitter civil was lasting three months. During the White Terror that ensued thousands of revolutionary workers and peasants were executed or tortured to death in prison.
- This refers to the resolution passed by the Moscow Regional Bureau of the RSDLP on February 24, 1918. For a criticism of this anti-Party document see Lenin’s article Strange and Monstrous.
- The resolution on war and peace was passed on March 8 at the morning session of the Party Congress. On Lenin’s proposal, which was affirmed by the Congress, the resolution was not made public. It was first published on January 1, 1919 in the workers’ daily Kommunar, which was issued by the Central Committee of the RCP(b) in Moscow from October 9, 1918 to June 1, 1919.
- K. Radek made a statement on behalf of the group of “Left Communists”, in which he tried to continue the polemic over the question of war and peace.
- G. Y. Zinoviev proposed instructing the new Central Committee to find a form for the publication of the resolution on war and peace. Zinoviev’s amendment was not accepted; by a majority vote the Congress affirmed Lenin’s proposed addition to the resolution.
- The question of revising the Party Programme was put forward by Lenin after the bourgeois-democratic revolution of February 1917. In his “Rough Draft for the Fifth Letter from Afar ” he defined the basic directions in which the Programme should be changed, and added that “this work must be started at once”. Lenin developed the propositions contained in this draft in his April Theses, in his report on the question of revising the Party Programme at the Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the RSDLP(b) and in other documents (see present edition, Vol. 24, pp. 277-79;. For the April Conference Lenin wrote the Proposed Amendments to the Doctrinal, Political and Other Sections of the Programme, which contained a number of amendments to the RSDLP Programme of 1903. The proofs of this draft were handed out to delegates to the April Conference, which gave the Central Committee two months to draw up a draft Party Programme for the Sixth Party Congress.
The Sixth Congress of the R.S.D.I,.P.(B.), which sat from July 26 to August 3 (August 8-16), 1917, endorsed the decision of the April Conference on the need to revise the Programme and instruct- ed the Central Committee to organise a broad discussion on the problems involved (see The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and Plenums of the Central Committee, Part I, Russ. ed., 1954, pp. 387-88). Before the Congress opened, in June 1917 a pamphlet prepared by Lenin on the Central Committee’s instructions and called Materials Relating to the Revision of the Party Programme, was published; it contained all the Programme materials in the possession of the Central Committee. Almost simultaneously the Regional Bureau of the Moscow Industrial Area of the RSDLP published “Materials Relating to the Revision of the Party Programme. Collected Articles by V. Milyutin, G. Sokolnikov, A. Lomov and V. Smirnov”. A theoretical discussion developed within the Party in the summer and autumn of 1917. A critical analysis of the articles that had appeared in the periodical press and the Moscow collection was given by Lenin in his article “Revision of the Party Programme ”, published in October 1917, in the magazine Prosveshcheniye No. 1-2 (see present edition, Vol. 26, pp. 149-78).
After several discussions on the question of tho Party Programme, the Central Committee at a meeting on October 5 (18), 1917 set up under Lenin’s chairmanship a commission to revise the Party Programme for the next Party Congress which was due to be held in the autumn of 1917. Eventually, by a decision of the Central Committee of January 24 (February 6), 1918 the drafting of the new Programme was entrusted to a new commission also headed by Lenin. Lenin wrote the “Rough Outline of the Draft Programme”, which was handed out to the delegates to the Seventh Congress as material for discussion. The Congress did not, however, discuss the Programme in detail; the drafting of the final version was entrusted to a seven-man commission elected by the Congress. The commission was headed by Lenin. The Congress charged the commission to be guided in its revision of the Programme by the instructions laid down in Lenin’s resolution, which had been unanimously adopted by the Congress. The new, second Party Programme was passed only by the Eighth Congress of the RCP(b) in March 1919.
The question of changing the name of the, Party had been raised by Lenin as early as 1914, at the beginning of the First World War (see present edition, Vol. 21, p. 93;. Lenin showed why this was necessary in his April Theses and in the pamphlet and in a number of other works and speechs in 1917. In the April Theses Lenin wrote: “Instead of ’Social-Democracy’, whose official leaders throughout the world have betrayed socialism and deserted to the bourgeoisie (the ’defencists’ and the vacillating ’Kautskyites’), we must call ourselves the Communist Party.”
This question was not considered at the April Conference of the RSDLP(b) of 1917 or at the Sixth Party Congress. The decision to change the name of the Party was taken only at the Seventh Party Congress, at which Lenin made a report on the subject.
- Lenin is referring to a proposition put forward by Engels in a letter to August Bebel of March 18-28, 1875 (see Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence, 1953, p. 357).
- The reference is to the symposia Materials Relating to the Revision of the Party Programme. Edited and with an Introduction by N. Lenin, Petrograd, Priboi Publishers, 1917 and Materials Relating to the Revision of the Party Programme. Collected Articles by V. Milyutin, G. Sokolnikov, A. Lomov und V. Smirnov. Published by the Regional Bureau of the Moscow Industrial Area of the RSDLP(b), 1917.
- Lenin is giving an account of Introduction to Borkheim’s Pamphlet “In Memory of the German Arch-Patriots of 1806-1807”, written by Engels on December 15, 1887 (Marx/Engels, Werke, Band 21, S. 351, Dietz Verlag, Berlin, 1962). Lenin refers more fully to Engels’s propositions in the article “Prophetic Words” (see this volume, pp. 494-99).
- See Materials Relating to the Revision of the Party Programme
- Chemnitz Congress of the German Social-Democrats, of September 15-21, 1912, passed a resolution “On Imperialism”, in which it described the policy of the imperialist states as a “barefaced policy of robbery and aggression” and called on the working class “to fight with redoubled energy against imperialism until it is overthrown”.
Basle Extraordinary International Socialist Congress (November 24-25, 1912) unanimously adopted a manifesto calling on the workers of all countries to wage a resolute flght for peace and to “pit against the might of capitalist imperialism the international solidarity of the working class”. The manifesto recommended that if imperialist war broke out, socialists should use the economic and political crisis it would cause in the struggle for a socialist revolution.
During the world imperialist war of 1914-18 the leaders of the Social-Democratic parties in the countries of Western Europe broke the decisions of the international socialist congresses, aescended to positions of social-chauvinism and sided with their imperialist governments. Lenin exposed this betrayal by the leaders of the Second International in his works The Collapse of the Second International, and Socialism and War (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 205-65, 295-338) and elsewhere.
- Lenin has in mind the revolutionary government of Finland—the Council of People’s Representatives—set up on January 29, 1918 after the overthrow of Svinhufvud’s bourgeois government. In addition to the Council of People’s Representatives there was also the Main Council of Workers’ Organisations, which was the supreme organ of government. State power was based on the “seims of workers’ organisations’, which were elected by the organised workers.
Lenin’s conclusion that the Soviets were not the only form of the dictatorship of the proletariat was subsequently fully confirmed. After the Second World War a new form of dictatorship of the proletariat arose in a number of countries of Europe and Asia. This was people’s democracy, which reflected the distinctive development of socialist revolution at a time when imperialism had been weakened and the balance of forces had tilted in favour of socialism” (Programme of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Moscow, 1961, p. 20).
- See Revision of the Party Programme
- Nationalisation of the land in Soviet Russia was brought about by the Decree on Land of October 26 (November 8), 1917, which announced the expropriation of the landed estates and abolished private ownership of land. After the victory of the October Socialist Revolution the Soviet Government gradually nationalised industry and the basic means of production. By the spring of 1918 the largest metallurgical and machine-building works of Petrograd, Moscow and other districts, and the mining industry of the Urals and the Donets Basin had become public property. In May 1918, such important branches of industry as oil and sugar began to be nationalised. At the same time the Soviet Government was preparing to nationalise all large-scale industry, and a decree to this effect was issued on June 28, 1918.
- The decree on the nationalisation of the banks, which was based on Lenin’s draft, was endorsed by the All-Russia Central Executive Commitlee on December 14 (27), 1917 and published on December 15 (28) in Izvestia TsIK No. 252 (see Decrees of the Soviet Government, Russ. ed., Vol. 1, 1957, pp. 225-30).
- The Decree on Land of October 26 (November 8). 1917 and the Fundamental Law on the Socialisation of the Land of January 18 (31), 1918 envisaged equalitarian distribution of the land (“according to a labour or subsistence standard”), a demand which had been put forward by the peasantry. This was a concession on the part of the Soviet Government to the middle peasant and it was aimed at consolidating the alliance of the working class and the peasantry. At the same time the law on the socialisation of the land proposed “the development of collective farming as the most profitable with regard to economising labour and produce, at the expense of individual farms and with the aim of going over to a socialist economy”.
- At the beginning of 1918 the Bureau of International Revolutionary Propaganda of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs started publishing the Decree on Land in foreign languages. In February 1918 the decree was published in Petrograd in English in the book Decrees Issued by the Revolutionary People’s Government, Vol. 1, Petrograd, February 1918.
- The “last speaker” was the delegate to the Congress for the Petrograd Party organisation Y. G. Fenigstein (Doletsky). On the grounds that the draft programme had not been discussed in the Party organisations, he proposed setting up at the Congress a commission to consider Lenin’s draft and to work out a programme for the next Congress.
- This appears to be a reference to a conversation with the leader of the Swedish Left Social-Democratic Party Höglund, who visited Soviet Russia in February 1918.
- In a speech at the Congress Y. Larin proposed including in the name of the Party the word “workers’”. His amendment was rejected by the Congress.
- The “last speaker” was R. A. Pelshe, who proposed removing from the Party Programme the proposition on using the parliamentary struggle. His amendment was rejected by the Congress.
- Bukharin’s proposal, which the Congress rejected, was that the theoretical part of the Programme should include an extensive description of socialism and communism and an indication that the state would wither away in the very near future. His proposition on the withering away of the state was connected with his theoretically incorrect and semi-anarchistic attitude concerning the problem of the state which Lenin had pointed out as early as 1916. Criticising Bukharin’s mistaken thesis that the Social-Democrats should stress their fundamental hostility to the state in general, Lenin wrote that Bukharin had “absolutely wrongly” defined the difference between Marxists and anarchists over the question of the state (see present edition, Vol. 35, “To N. Bukharin). Lenin also criticised Bukharin’s theory of the state in his notes on Bukharin’s articles on the state and on Bukharin’s book The Economics of the Transitional Period (see V. I. Lenin, “Notes on the Articles by N. I. Bukharin on the State”, Russ. ed., Moscow, 1933, and Lenin Miscellany XI, pp. 345-403). Posing the question of the withering away of the state as a short-term aim, soon after the victory of the October Revolution, meant, in effect, weakening the new state based on the dictatorship of the proletariat.
- When the new Central Committee was elected the “Left Communists” refused to serve on it. On behalf of a group of “Left Communists” M. S. Uritsky stated at the Congress that they would not serve on the Central Committee because they did not wish to take responsibility for the policy it was conducting. The “Left Communists” even refused to vote during the election of the Central Committee. The Congress voted its condemnation of this disruptive step and passed a decision that the Party organisations that had delegated the “Left Communists” were to be informed of their conduct. When it met this resistance from the Congress, the group took part in the voting and the Congress rescinded its decision.
- The name of the Party simply: “Communist Party” (without addition of “Russian"), but in brackets: (Party of Bolsheviks).