Has Dual Power Disappeared?
|Written||20 May 1917|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 445-448.
It has not. Dual power still remains. The basic question of every revolution, that of state power, is still in an uncertain, unstable, and obviously transitory state.
Compare the papers of the cabinet, Rech, for instance, with Izvestia, Dyelo Naroda, and Rabochaya Gazeta. Scan the meagre—unfortunately all too meagre—official reports of what is going on at the meetings of the Provisional Government, of how the government “postpones” discussion of the most vital issues, because of its inability to take any definite course. Study the resolution of the Soviet’s Executive Committee passed on May 16, which deals with such a crucial and momentous question as that of how to cope with economic chaos and avert imminent debacle—and you will see that dual power is absolutely intact.
Everyone admits that the country is swiftly heading for disaster—yet all that is done about it is to brush the question under the carpet.
Is it not side-stepping the issue, when a resolution on such a grave question as impending economic catastrophe, at such a grave moment, merely creates a spate of commissions, departments, and sub-departments; when the same Executive Committee passes a resolution expressing nothing but pious wishes on such a scandalous affair as that of the Donets coal mine owners who were found guilty of deliberately disorganising production? Price fixing, profit regulation, the establishment of a minimum wage, and the formation of state-controlled trusts—yes, but how, through whom? “Through the central and local institutions in the Donets Krivoi Rog Basin. These institutions must be democratic in character and made up of representatives of the workers, employers, the government, and democratic revolutionary organisations”!
This would be comical if the matter involved were not a tragedy.
It is common knowledge that such “democratic” institutions have existed and still exist locally and in Petrograd (the very same Executive Committee of the Soviet) but they are powerless to do anything. Meetings between the Donets workers and the employers have been going on since the end of March—March! Over six weeks have passed and the result is that the Donets workers have been forced to the conclusion that the coal mine owners are deliberately disorganising production!
And again the people are fed with promises, commissions, meetings between representatives of the workers and employers (in equal numbers?), and the old red tape starts all over again.
The root of the evil is in the dual power. The root of the Narodniks’ and Mensheviks’ error is that they do not understand the class struggle, and want to replace or cloak it, reconcile it by means of phrases, promises, resolutions, commissions “with the participation” of representatives ... of the same dual government!
The capitalists have made fantastic, outrageous fortunes out of the war. They have the majority of the government on their side. They want to rule supreme; in view of their class position they are bound to make a bid for supreme power and fight for it.
The working masses constitute the vast majority of the population, they control the Soviets, they are aware of their power as a majority, they see everywhere the promise of a “democratised” life, they know that democracy is the rule of the majority over the minority (and not the reverse— which is what the capitalists want), they have been striving to better their lives only since the revolution (and then not everywhere), and not since the beginning of the war—therefore they cannot but aspire towards supreme rule by the people, i.e., the majority of the population, towards affairs being managed according to the will of the worker majority as opposed to the capitalist minority, and not according to an “agreement” between the majority and the minority.
Dual power still remains. The government of the capitalists remains a government of the capitalists, despite the appended tag of Narodniks and Mensheviks in a minority capacity. The Soviets remain the organisation of the majority. The Narodnik and Menshevik leaders are floundering helplessly in an attempt to straddle two stools.
Meanwhile the crisis is growing. Things have reached a point where the capitalists—the coal mine owners—are brazenly committing outrageous crimes—they are disorganising and stopping production. Unemployment is spreading. There is talk of lockouts. Actually they have started in the form of disorganisation of production by the capitalists (for coal is the bread of industry!), in the form of growing unemployment.
Sole responsibility for this crisis, for the impending catastrophe, rests with the Narodnik and Menshevik leaders. For it is they who are at present the leaders of the Soviets, i.e., of the majority. That the minority (the capitalists) should be unwilling to submit to the majority is inevitable. No person who has not forgotten the lessons which science and the experience of all countries teach us, no person who has not forgotten the class struggle, will look trustfully towards “an agreement” with the capitalists on such an essential, burning question.
The majority of the population, i.e., the Soviets, the workers and peasants, would be fully able to save the situation, prevent the capitalists from disorganising and stopping production, establish their own immediate and effective control over production if it were not for the “conciliatory” policy of the Narodnik and Menshevik leaders. They bear full responsibility for the crisis and the catastrophe.
There is no way out, however, other than by the worker and peasant majority deciding to act against the capitalist minority. Playing for time will not help, it will only make matters worse.
Viewed from a Marxist angle, the “conciliatory” attitude of the Narodnik and Menshevik leaders is a manifestation of petty-bourgeois indecision. The petty bourgeoisie is afraid to trust the workers, and is afraid to break with the capitalists. Such wavering is inevitable, as inevitable as our struggle, the struggle of the proletarian party, to overcome indecision, and to make the people see the necessity for rehabilitating, organising, and increasing production in the teeth of capitalist opposition.
There is no other way out. Either we go back to supreme rule by the capitalists, or forward towards real democracy, towards majority decisions. This dual power cannot last long.