From the Theses for a Report at the October 8 Conference of the St. Petersburg Organisation, and Also for a Resolution and Instructions to Those Elected to the Party Congress
|Written||29 October 1917|
Published: First published in full in 1962 in Vol. 34 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works. Printed from a typewritten copy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 446.2-448.1.
The theses were first published in full in Vol. 34 of the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected Works. The First edition of the Collected Works (Vol. 14, Part II), and the Fourth edition of the Collected Works (Vol. 26), did not contain the section “On the List of Candidates for the Constituent Assembly” and the note to it. In Vol. 21 of the Second and Third editions of the Collected Works it was published in part.
The Third Petrograd City Conference was held from October 7 to 11 (20 to 24), 1917. It was attended by 92 delegates with vote and 40 delegates with voice only. Lenin was elected honorary chairman. Lenin’s theses were the basis of the Conference decisions. In a resolution on the present situation, the Conference declared the need to replace the Kerensky government by a workers’ and peasants’ revolutionary government, for only such a government could give land to the peasants and take the country out of the war and the ruin, The Conference adopted resolutions “On the Red Guard” and “On the Hunger Strike by Political Prisoners in the Case of July 3 (16)-5 (18)”. Its decisions emphasised that the country was on the eve of a massive proletarian uprising and expressed the firm conviction that the uprising would be victorious. The Conference discussed the question of elections to the Constituent Assembly, Lenin being among the first candidates nominated from Petrograd. The sitting on October 11 (24) heard Lenin’s “Letter to the Petrograd City Conference” (see present edition, Vol. 26, pp. 145–48). The Conference played a very important part in the preparation of the Great October Socialist Revolution. p. 446
ON THE LIST OF CANDIDATES FOR THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
The list of candidates published by the Central Committee has been compiled in an inadmissible manner and calls for the sharpest protest. The point is that there must be four or five times more workers in a peasant Constituent Assembly, because they alone are capable of establishing close and intimate ties with the peasant deputies. It is absolutely inadmissible also to have an excessive number of candidates from among people who have but recently joined our Party and have not yet been tested (like Larin). In filling the list with such candidates who should first have worked in the Party for months and months, the CC has thrown wide open the door for careerists who scramble for seats in the Constituent Assembly. There is need for an urgent review and correction of the list
NOTE TO THESIS “ON THE LIST OF CANDIDATES FOR THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY”
It goes without saying that from among the mezhraiontsi who have been hardly tested in proletarian work in our Party’s spirit, no one would contest the candidature of, say, Trotsky, for, first, upon his arrival, Trotsky at once took up an internationalist stand; second, he worked among the mezhraiontsi for a merger; third, in the difficult July days he proved himself equal to the task and a loyal supporter of the party of the revolutionary proletariat. Clearly, as much cannot be said about many of the new Party members entered on the list.
Larin’s nomination is especially scandalous (apart from his being placed ahead of Petrovsky, Krylenko and others...). During the war, Larin helped the chauvinists, spoke on their behalf at the Swedish congress, and helped to print lies against the St. Petersburg workers and their boycott of the War Industries Committees. During the war, before the revolution, Larin did not once show himself to be a fighter for internationalism. Upon his return to Russia, Larin long helped the Mensheviks and even came out in the press with indecent attacks against, our Party, in the Alexinsky spirit. Larin is well known for his “swings”: let us recall his pamphlet on the labour congress and on a merger with the S.R.s.
Of course, there would be no need to recall all this if Larin entered the Party with a desire to reform. But to get him into the Constituent Assembly within a week or so of his entry into the Party is in fact to transform the Party into the same kind of dirty stall for careerists as most of the European parties are.
The serious work in the Constituent Assembly will consist in establishing close, intimate ties with the peasants. Only workers who are in touch with peasant life are fit for this. To pack the Constituent Assembly with orators and writers is to take the beaten track of opportunism and chauvinism. That is unworthy of the “Third International”.
- The Provisional Government announced the convocation of the Constituent Assembly in its Declaration of March 2 (15), 1917. On June 14 (27), the Provisional Government adopted a decision appointing the elections to the Constituent Assembly on September 17 (30). But in August it postponed the elections until November 12 (25).
The elections were held after the victory of the October Socialist Revolution, on the appointed day. Polling took place by lists drawn up before the October Revolution an under the statute approved by the Provisional Government. A considerable section of the people had not yet had time to grasp the full significance of the socialist revolution, which was used by the Right-wing S.R.s, who managed to win majorities in gubernias and regions, far away from the capital and industrial centres. The Constituent Assembly was convened by the Soviet Government and opened in Petrograd on January 5 (18), 1918. The counter-revolutionary majority of the Constituent Assembly rejected the “Declaration of the Rights of the Working and Exploited People” which was placed before it by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, and refused to recognise the Soviet power. The bourgeois Constituent Assembly was dissolved by a decree of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on January 6 (10). p. 446
- Mezhraiontsi—members of the Inter-District Organisation of the United Social-Democrats which arose in St. Petersburg in November 1913 with the idea of working for RSDLP unity. Behind the slogan of unity, and in an effort to merge the Bolshevik and the Menshevik organisations in St. Petersburg, the mezhraiontsi actually set up their own factional organisation, which included Trotskyite Mensheviks and also a section of former Bolsheviks who took a conciliatory attitude towards the opportunists.
During the First World War, the mezhraiontsi adopted a Centrist stand; they recognised the war as imperialist and opposed social-chauvinism; but did not agree to a full break-away from the Mensheviks. In 1917, the mezhraiontsi organisation, which included A. Joffe, A. Lunacharsky, D. Manuilsky, L. Trotsky, M. Uritsky, V. Volodarsky and I. Yurenev, announced its agreement with the Bolshevik Party line. At the Sixth Congress of the RSDLP(b) the mezhraiontsi organisation (almost 4,000 members) broke away from the Menshevik defencists and was admitted to the Bolshevik Party. Subsequent events showed that some mezhraiontsi (including Lunacharsky, Manuilsky, Volodarsky and Uritsky) did in fact break with their Centrist past and became prominent members of the Bolshevik Party. But Trotsky, even after he entered the Bolshevik Party, did not become a Bolshevik and carried on a secret and open struggle against Leninism and the Party’s policy. He became the bitterest enemy of Leninism, the Soviet state and the entire international communist movement.
The mezhraiontsi published their own periodical—the journal Vperyod (one issue appeared in 1915 illegally). Its publication was resumed in 1917: from June to August it was published legally as the organ of the St. Petersburg Inter-District Committee of the United Social-Democrats (internationalists); there were 8 issues. After the Sixth Party Congress, the Editorial Board was changed and No. 9 appeared as an organ of the RSDLP(b) Central Committee. In September its publication was discontinued under a Central Committee decision. p. 447
- What about M.N. Pokrovsky’s candidature? In 1907, he moved away from the Bolsheviks and remained on the sidelines for years. It would be a good thing if he came back for good. But this has first to be proved by long effort. —Lenin