Special pages :
Seventh All-Russia Congress Of Soviets
|Written||5 December 1919|
First Published in Pravda Nos. 275, 276, 277, December 7, 9. 10, 1919; Published according to Seventh All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’, Red Army and Cossack Deputies. Verbatim Report, Moscow, 1920, verified with the shorthand notes
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 205-252
The Seventh All-Russia Congress of Soviets was held in Moscow. It was attended by 1,366 delegates (1,002 with the right to vote and 364 with voice but no vote), of them 1,278 Communists. The agenda of the Congress was the following: (1) Report of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars, (2) War Situation, (3) the Communist International, (4) Food Situation, (5) Fuel Question, (6) Work of Soviet Bodies in the Centre and the Provinces, (7) Elections to the All-Russia Central Executive Committee.
On the opening day of the Congress Lenin delivered the report on the work of the All-Russia CEC and the CPC; on the following day he closed the debate on the report, on December 8 he took part in a discussion of the report on the work of Soviet bodies at the session of the organisation section and on December 9 he made a speech closing the Congress. Lenin introduced addenda to the draft resolution on Soviet organisation.
The Congress of Soviets approved the home and foreign policy of the Soviet Government. The detailed discussion of the reports on Soviet organisation, the food situation and the fuel question was entrusted to respective sections in view of their practical importance. The draft resolutions on the reports submitted by the sections were approved by the closing plenary meeting of the Congress on December 9. The resolution on "Soviet Organisation" envisaged the further consolidation of Soviet, government bodies, and gave an exact formulation of their rights and duties in the centre and in the provinces.
On Lenin’s proposal the Congress adopted a resolution on peace and an appeal to the governments of Britain, France, the U.S.A., Italy and Japan to begin peace negotiations (see p. 231 of this volume). The Congress of Soviets passed a resolution on ’Oppressed Nations" in which it once again confirmed the principles of the Soviet national policy. In a special resolution the Congress expressed its indignation at the reign of White Terror in Hungary. The Congress greeted the foundation of the Third International and stressed its tremendous international significance
December 5-9, 1919
1. Report of The All-Russia Central Executive Committee And The Council Of Peoples Commissars[edit source]
(Applause. Delegates greet Lenin with a standing ovation.) Comrades, in accordance with a decision of the Presidium the political report I am making is to he the joint report of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars. I trust that you are not expecting me to enumerate the laws and administrative measures introduced by us during the year under review. No doubt the newspapers have made you familiar with them. Furthermore, small booklets published by most of our commissariats and describing their main activities during the period under review are being distributed to all Congress delegates. I should like to draw your attention to a number of summarised results, which in my opinion may be deduced from our experience and which may serve as useful instructions and material for the future work of all comrade delegates in the localities.
When speaking of the political results and lessons of our activities, the Soviet Republic’s international position naturally takes first place. Both prior to October and during the October Revolution, we always said that we regard ourselves and can only regard ourselves as one of the contingents of the international proletarian army, a contingent which came to the fore, not because of its level of development and preparedness, but because of Russia’s exceptional conditions; we always said that the victory of the socialist revolution, therefore, can only be regarded as final when it becomes the victory of the proletariat in at least several advanced countries. It was in this respect that we experienced the greatest difficulties.
Our banking on the world revolution, if you can call it that, has on the whole been fully justified. But from the point of view of the speed of its development we have endured an exceptionally difficult period; we have seen for ourselves that the revolution’s development in more advanced countries has proved to be considerably slower, considerably more difficult, considerably more complicated. This should not surprise us for it was naturally easier for a country such as Russia to start a socialist revolution than it is for the advanced countries. But, in any case, this slower, more complicated, more zigzag development of the socialist revolution in Western Europe has burdened us with incredible difficulties. The question that primarily comes to mind is: how was it possible for such a miracle to have occurred, for Soviet power to have held out for two years in a backward, mined and war-weary country, in the face of the stubborn struggle waged against it first by German imperialism, which at that time was considered omnipotent, and then by Entente imperialism, which a year ago settled accounts with Germany, had no rivals and lorded it over all the countries on earth? From the point of view of a simple calculation of the forces involved, from the point of view of a military assessment of these forces, it really is a miracle, because the Entente was and continues to be immeasurably stronger than we are. Nevertheless, the year under review is noteworthy most of all for our having won a tremendous victory, so great a victory that I think we may say without exaggeration that our main difficulties are already behind us. No matter how great the dangers and difficulties in store for us, the main ones are evidently behind us. We must understand the reasons for this, and, what is most important, must correctly determine our future policy, since the future will almost certainly bring many further attempts by the Entente at intervention, and possibly a rebirth of the previous predatory alliance between international and Russian capitalists to restore the power of the landowners and capitalists, to overthrow Soviet rule in Russia, in short, an alliance pursuing the old aim of extinguishing the centre of the world socialist conflagration—the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic.
Examining the history of the Entente intervention and its political lesson for us from this point of view, I would say that it could be divided into three main stages, each of which has successively given us full and lasting victory.
The first stage, naturally the most convenient and easiest for the Entente countries, involved their attempt to settle matters with Soviet Russia by using their own troops. Of course, after the Entente countries had defeated Germany they had armies of millions of men who had not yet openly declared for peace and who did not immediately recover from the fright given them by the bogey of German imperialism, which had been used to scare them in all the Western countries. At that time, of course, from the military point of view, and from the point of view of foreign policy, it would have been easy for the Entente countries to take a tenth part of their armies and dispatch them to Russia. Note that they completely dominated at sea, that they had complete naval supremacy. Troop transportation and supplies were always completely under their control. Had the Entente countries, who hated us as only the bourgeoisie can hate the socialist revolution, then been able to fling even a tenth part of their armies against us with any success, there cannot be the slightest doubt that Soviet Russia would have been doomed and would have met the same fate as Hungary.
Why did the Entente countries fail to achieve this? They landed troops in Murniansk. The drive into Siberia was undertaken with the aid of Entente troops, and Japanese troops continue to hold a distant slice of Eastern Siberia, while there were military units, even if not big ones, from all the Entente states in all parts of Western Siberia. Then French troops were landed in the South of Russia. That was the first stage of international intervention in our affairs, the first attempt, so to speak, to crush the Soviets with troops from the Entente’s own countries, i.e., with the aid of workers and peasants of the more advanced countries, who were splendidly equipped; generally speaking the Entente countries lacked nothing in the way of technical and material means for the campaign. There were no obstacles confronting them. How, then, are we to explain the failure of that attempt? It ended in the Entente countries having to withdraw their troops, because they proved incapable of waging a struggle against revolutionary Soviet Russia. That, comrades, has always been our main and principal argument. From the very outset of the revolution we have said that we constitute a party of the international proletariat, and that, however great the difficulties facing the revolution, there would come a time when, at the most decisive moment, the sympathy, the solidarity of the workers oppressed by international imperialism would make itself felt. For this we were accused of being utopians. But experience has shown that while we cannot always and in all cases rely on action by the proletariat, at any rate we may say that during these two years of the world’s history we have been proved correct a thousand times. The attempt by the British and French to crush Soviet Russia with their own troops, an attempt that promised them certain and very easy success in a minimum of time, ended in failure: the British troops have left Archangel, and the French troops that had landed in the South have all been sent home. Despite the blockade, despite the ring drawn around us, news does reach us from Western Europe, we do get British and French newspapers, even if only sporadically, from which we learn that letters sent by British soldiers from Archangel Region have somehow reached Britain and been published there. We know that the name of the Frenchwoman, Comrade Joanne Labourbe, who engaged in communist activity among French soldiers and workers and was shot in Odessa, became known to the entire French proletariat and became a battle-cry, a name around which all French workers united for action against international imperialism despite the apparently insurmountable factional trends of syndicalism. The words of Comrade Hadek, who fortunately, as today’s reports state, has been liberated by Germany and whom we shall perhaps see soon, that the soil of Russia, aflame with the fire of revolution, would prove inaccessible to the Entente troops—these words, which seemed to be just a writer’s flight of fancy, were actually realised. Despite all our backwardness, despite all the burden of our struggle, the troops of Britain and France proved incapable of fighting us on our own soil. The result was a victory for us. The first time that they tried to send massive military forces against us—and without them victory is impossible—the only result was that, thanks to their correct class instinct, the French and British soldiers brought home from Russia the very ulcer of Bolshevism that the German imperialists were fighting when they expelled our envoys from Berlin. They thought they would protect themselves in this way against the ulcer of Bolshevism, which now spreads over the whole of Germany in the shape of a strengthened labour movement. The victory we won in compelling the evacuation of the British and French troops was the greatest of our victories over the Entente countries. We deprived them of their soldiers. Our response to the unlimited military and technical superiority of the Entente countries was to deprive them of it through the solidarity of the working people against the imperialist governments.
This revealed how superficial and uncertain it is to judge these so-called democratic countries by accepted criteria. Their parliaments have stable bourgeois majorities. This they call “democracy”. Capital dominates and weighs down everything and they still resort to military censorship. And they call that “democracy”. Among the millions of copies of their newspapers and magazines you would be hard put to find any but an insignificant few that contain even a hint of anything favourable about the Bolsheviks. That is why they say: “We are protected against the Bolsheviks, there is order in our countries”, and they call it ‘democracy”. How could it happen that a small section of British soldiers and French sailors were able to compel the withdrawal of the Entente troops from Russia? There is something wrong here. It means that even in Britain, France and America the mass of the people are for us; it means that all these external features, as socialists who refuse to betray socialism have always asserted, are a deception; it means that the bourgeois parliamentary system, bourgeois democracy, bourgeois freedom of the press are merely freedom for the capitalists, freedom to bribe public opinion, to exert pressure on it by all the power of money. That is what socialists always said until the imperialist war scattered them to their national camps and turned each national group of socialists into lackeys of their own bourgeoisie. That was said by socialists before the war, that was always said by the internationalists and Bolsheviks during the war—and it all proved to be absolutely correct. All the external features, all the window-dressings, are a fraud; and this is becoming increasingly obvious to the people. They all shout about democracy, but in no parliament in the world did they dare to say that they were declaring war on Soviet Russia. That is why we read in the numerous French, British and American publications now available the proposal to “place the heads of state in the dock for having violated the Constitution, for waging war on Russia without declaring war”. When and where was it sanctioned, what article of the Constitution, what parliament sanctioned it? Where did they gather their parliamentary representatives together, even after taking the precaution to imprison all Bolsheviks and near-Bolsheviks, to use the expression of the French press? Even under those conditions they did not dare to state in their parliaments that they were fighting Russia. That was why the splendidly armed, previously undefeated troops of Britain and France were unable to defeat us and departed from Archangel Region in the North, and from the South.
That was our first and chief victory, because it was not only a military victory, it was not really a military victory at all—it was actually a victory of that international solidarity of the working people for which we began the whole revolution, and which we pointed to and said that, however numerous the trials we would have to undergo, all these sacrifices would be repaid a hundredfold by the development of the world revolution, which is inevitable. It was apparent from the fact that in the sphere where the grossest material factors play the greatest part, namely, in the military sphere, we defeated the Entente countries by depriving them of the workers and peasants in soldiers’ uniforms.
The first victory was followed by the second period of Entente intervention in our affairs. Each nation is headed by a group of politicians who possess wonderful experience, and that is why, after losing this stake, they placed another, taking advantage of their dominant position in the world. There is not a single country, not a single bit of the earth’s surface, which is not in fact totally dominated by British, French and American finance capital. That was the basis for the new attempt they made, namely, to compel the small countries surrounding Russia, many of which had been liberated and had been able to declare themselves independent only during the war—Poland, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, the Ukraine, etc.—to compel these small states to go to war against Russia on British, French and American money.
You may remember, comrades, that our newspapers reported a speech by Churchill, the well-known British Cabinet Minister, in which he said that 14 states would attack Russia and that September would see the fall of Petrograd, and December that of Moscow. I heard that Churchill then disclaimed this report, but it was taken from the Swedish Folkets Dagblad-Politiken of August 25. But even if this source proved unreliable we know full well that Churchill and the British imperialists acted precisely in this way. We are perfectly well aware that everything was done to exert pressure on Finland, Estonia and other small countries, in order to persuade them to wage war on Soviet Russia. I happened to read a leading article in The Times, the most influential bourgeois newspaper in Britain, a leader written when Yudenich’s troops, obviously supplied, equipped and conveyed on board Entente transports, were a few versts from Petrograd, and Detskoye Solo had been taken. The article was a veritable onslaught, in which the maximum pressure was exerted—military, diplomatic and historical. British capital flung itself on Finland and faced her with an ultimatum: The eyes of the whole world are on Finland, said the British capitalists, the entire fate of Finland depends on whether she understands her role, whether she will help to crush the filthy, dirty, bloody wave of Bolshevism and liberate Russia. And in return for this “great and moral” work, for this ‘noble, civilised” work, Finland was promised so many million pounds, such-and-such a piece of territory, and such-and-such benefits. And what was the result? There was a time when Yudenich’s troops were a few versts away from Petrograd, when Denikin stood to the north of Orel, when the slightest assistance to them would have quickly settled the fate of Petrograd to the advantage of our enemies, in a minimum of time and at negligible cost.
The entire pressure of the Entente countries was brought to hear on Finland, a country that is up to its neck ill debt to them. And not only in debt: Finland cannot carry on for one month without the aid of these countries. But how did the “miracle” of our having won the battle against such an enemy happen? And win it we did. Finland did not enter the war, Yudenich was defeated, so was Denikin, and that at a time when joint action by them would most surely, most swiftly have settled the whole struggle to the advantage of international capitalism. We won the battle with international imperialism in this most serious and desperate trial of strength. But how did we do it? How could such a ‘miracle” have taken place? It took place because the Entente backed the same card as all capitalist states, which operate wholly and solely by deception and pressure; that was why everything they did aroused such resistance that the result was to our advantage. We were very poorly armed, worn out, and we said to the Finnish workers, whom the Finnish bourgeoisie had crushed, “You must not fight against us.” The Entente countries appeared strong in their armaments, with all their outward might, with the food they were in a position to supply to these countries, and demanded that they fight against us. We won this battle. We won because the Entente countries had no troops of their own to fling against us, they had to resort to the forces of the small nations, but here, not only the workers and peasants, but even the considerable section of that very bourgeoisie that had crushed the working class did not in the end go against us.
When the Entente imperialists spoke of democracy and independence, these nations had the impudence from the Entente viewpoint, and foolishness from our viewpoint, to take these promises seriously and to understand independence as really implying independence, and not a means of enriching the British and French capitalists, They thought that democracy meant living as free men, and not that all American multimillionaires would be able to plunder their country, or that every tinpot aristocrat of an officer should be able to behave like a swine and turn into a brazen black-marketeer prepared, for the sake of a few hundred per cent profit, to do the filthiest of jobs. That was how we won! The Entente encountered opposition to its pressure on these small countries, on each of these 14 countries. The Finnish bourgeoisie who employed White Terror to crush tens of thousands of Finnish workers know that this will not he forgotten, and that the German bayonets that made it possible no longer exist these Finnish bourgeois hate the Bolsheviks as intensely as an exploiter would hate the workers who kicked him out. Nevertheless the Finnish bourgeoisie said to themselves, “If we follow the instructions of the Entente, that means we shall undoubtedly lose all hope of independence.” And this independence was given to them by the Bolsheviks in November 1917, when Finland had a bourgeois government. The attitude of wide sections of the Finnish bourgeoisie, therefore, proved to be one of vacillation. We won the battle with the Entente countries because they counted on the small nations and at the same time repelled them.
This experience confirms, on an enormous, global scale, what we have always said. There are two forces on earth that can decide the destiny of mankind. One force is international capitalism, and should it be victorious it will display this force in countless atrocities as may be seen from the history of every small nation’s development. The other force is the international proletariat that is fighting for the socialist revolution through the dictatorship of the proletariat, which it calls workers’ democracy. Neither the vacillating elements here in Russia, nor the bourgeoisie of the small countries believed us; they called us utopians or bandits or even worse, for there is no stupid and monstrous accusation that they will not fling at us. But when they faced up squarely to the issue of either going with the Entente countries and helping thent to crush the Bolsheviks, or of helping the Bolsheviks by neutrality, we proved to have won the battle and to have got that neutrality. We had no treaties, whereas Britain, France and America had all sorts of promissory notes, all sorts of treaties; nevertheless the small nations did as we wanted them to; they did so not because the Polish, Finnish, Lithuanian or Latvian bourgeoisie derived satisfaction from conducting their policy in a way that suited the Bolsheviks—that, of course, is nonsense—but because our definition of the historical forces involved was correct, namely, that either brute capital would be victorious, and then, even if it were in the most democratic republic, it would crush all the small nations of the world—or the dictatorship of the proletariat would be victorious, which is the sole hope of all working people and of the small, downtrodden and weak nations. It turned out that we were right not only in theory, but also in practical world politics. When this battle for the troops of Finland and Estonia took place we won it, although they could have crushed us with insignificant forces. We won the battle despite the Entente countries having thrown the enormous weight of their financial pressure, their military might, and their food supplies into the fray in order to compel Finland to take action.
That, comrades, was the second stage of international intervention, our second historic victory. First, we won the workers and peasants away from Britain, France and America. These troops could not fight against us. Secondly, we won away from them these small countries, all of which are against us, and in which not Soviet, but bourgeois rule dominates. They displayed friendly neutrality towards us and acted contrary to the desires of that mighty world force, the Entente, for it was a beast that wanted to crush them.
We witness here on a world scale the same thing that happened to the Siberian peasants, who believed in the Constituent Assembly and helped the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks to join forces with Kolchak and to strike at us. When they learned to their own cost that Kolchak represented the dictatorship of the very worst exploiters, a plunderous dictatorship of landowners and capitalists which was worse than that of the tsar, they organised the tremendous number of revolts in Siberia about which comrades have given us reliable information, and which now guarantee the complete return to us of Siberia, this time politically conscious. What happened to the Siberian peasant, with all his backwardness and political ignorance, has now happened on a broader scale, on a world scale, to all the small nations. They hated the Bolsheviks; some of them had suppressed the Bolsheviks with a bloody hand, with furious White Terror, but when they saw their “liberators”, the British officers, they understood the meaning of British and American “democracy”. When representatives of the British and American bourgeoisie appeared in Finland and Estonia, the acts of suppression they began were more brazen than those of the Russian imperialists had been, because the Russian imperialists had belonged to an older period and did not know how to suppress properly, whereas these people do know, and go about it thoroughly.
That is why this victory at the second stage is a far more lasting one than is apparent at the moment. I am not exaggerating at all, and consider exaggerations to be extremely dangerous. I have not the slightest doubt that further attempts will be made by the Entente to set against us now one, now another of the small states that are our neighbours. Such attempts will occur because the small states are wholly de pendent on the Entente, because all this talk about freedom, independence and democracy is sheer hypocrisy, and the Entente may compel them once again to raise their hand against us. But if this attempt was foiled at such a convenient moment when it was so easy to wage a struggle against us, we may, I think, say definitely that in this respect the main difficulty is undoubtedly behind us. We are entitled to say this, and to say it without the slightest exaggeration, fully conscious that the Entente countries possess a tremendous advantage in strength. We have won a lasting victory. Attempts will be made against us, but we shall defeat them with greater ease, because the small states, despite their bourgeois system, have become convinced by experience, not theory—these gentlemen are theory-proof—that the Entente is a more brazen and predatory brute than the one they have in their minds when they think of the Bolsheviks, the bogey used to scare children and cultured philistines all over Europe.
But our victories were not limited to this. In the first place we won over to our side the workers and peasants of the Entente countries; secondly, we gained the neutrality of the small nations under the Entente’s domination and, thirdly, we began to win over, within the Entente countries, the petty bourgeoisie and educated townsfolk who had been completely opposed to us. To prove this I will quote the newspaper I’Humanité of October 26 which I have here. This newspaper has always belonged to the Second International, was rabidly chauvinistic during the war, adhered to the viewpoint of socialists similar to our Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, and still plays the role of a conciliator; it now announces that it has become convinced of a change in mood among the workers. The paper did not see this in Odessa but on the streets and at meetings in Paris, when the workers stopped everyone who dared say a word against Bolshevik Russia. As politicians who have learned a fair amount during the course of several revolutions, as persons who understand what sort of force the people are, they dare not say a word in favour of intervention, and are all speaking against it. Moreover, it is not only the socialists who say this (they call themselves socialists, but for a long time we have been aware what sort of socialists they are); the same issue of l’Humanité of October 26, which I quoted, contains a statement by a large number of French intellectuals, representative of French public opinion. The signatories to this statement are headed by Anatolo France and include Ferdinand Buisson; altogether I counted the names of 71 bourgeois intellectuals famed throughout France, who state that they are against intervention in Russia’s affairs, because the blockade of Russia, the attempt to starve her out from which children and the aged are perishing, cannot be tolerated it is incompatible with culture and civilisation. The well-known French historian Aulard, who supports the bourgeois point of view in full, writes in his letter, “As a Frenchman I am an enemy of the Bolsheviks, as a Frenchman I support democracy, it is ridiculous to suspect me of the contrary, but when I read that France has invited Germany to participate in the blockade of Russia, when I read that France has approached Germany with this proposal—then I feel myself blushing with shame.” It may he that this is just an expression of an intellectual’s feelings but we are justified in saying that this is our third victory, a victory over imperialist France within the country itself. Such is the implication of this statement, feeble and pathetic as it is, the statement of intellectuals whose bark, as we know. from hundreds of examples, is far worse than their bite, but who serve as a good barometer, an indicator of the trend developing amongst the petty bourgeoisie, of the way in which public opinion is reacting, permeated as it is with bourgeois sentiment. If we have achieved such results within France herself, where all the bourgeois papers write about us only in the most lying terms, then we say to ourselves: it looks as if a second Dreyfus case is beginning in France,. only on a much larger scale. At that time the bourgeois intellectuals fought against clerical and military reactionaries, while the working class could not consider it their business, as the objective conditions were absent, the deep revolutionary feeling of today did not then exist. And now? If, after the recent electoral victory of the most rabid reactionaries and in the face of a regime hostile to the Bolsheviks, the French bourgeois intellectuals say that they are ashamed of the alliance between reactionary France and reactionary Germany for the purpose of starving out the workers and peasants of Russia, then we can say to ourselves that this is the third and greatest of our victories. And I should like to see how, with this situation within the country, Clemenceau, Lloyd George and Wilson will carry out the plan of fresh attacks on Russia they dream of. Just try it, gentlemen! (Applause.)
Comrades, I repeat that it would be a great mistake to jump to hasty conclusions because of all this. There can be no doubt that the imperialists will resume their attempts, but we are absolutely confident that these attempts, no matter by what powerful forces they may be undertaken, will end in failure. We can say that the Civil War which we conducted with such tremendous sacrifices has ended in victory. It has been victorious, not only on a Russian scale, but on a world-historical scale. Every argument I have presented to you has been based on the results of the military campaign. That is why, I repeat, new attempts are doomed to failure because the imperialists have become much weaker and we have become much stronger after our victory over Kolchak, over Yudenich, and when there are signs that the victory over Denikin, now in its early stages, is imminent. Did not Kolchak have the aid of the all-powerful Entente? Did not the peasants of the Urals and Siberia, who returned the smallest number of Bolsheviks to the Constituent Assembly, solidly support the Constituent Assembly front, which at that time was the front of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries? Were not they the best human material against the Communists? Is it not a fact that Siberia was a country with no landed estates and where we were not immediately able to assist the mass of peasants in the same way as we were able to help all other Russian peasants? What did Kolchak lack to defeat us? He lacked what all imperialists lack. He remained an exploiter and had to act in the backwash of a world war, in circumstances in which he could only babble about democracy and freedom, but which made possible one of two dictatorships—either the dictatorship of the exploiters which frenziedly defends their privileges and insists on payment of interest on the bills, whereby they wish to squeeze millions out of all peoples, or the dictatorship of the workers which fights the power of the capitalists and wishes to establish firmly the power of the working people. It was only because of this that Kolchak came to grief. It was in this way—not by voting, which is, of course, in certain circumstances not a bad way—that the Siberian and Ural peasants actually determined their destiny. In the summer of 1918 they were dissatisfied with the Bolsheviks. They saw that the Bolsheviks forced them to sell their surplus grain at a non-speculative price and so they turned to Kolchak. Now the peasant has seen, compared and arrived at a different conclusion. Despite all he was taught in the past, he has understood, because he has learned from his own experience what many Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks do not want to understand from theory (applause)—that there must be one of two dictatorships, that he must choose either the dictatorship of the workers—and this means to assist all working people to throw off the yoke of the exploiters—or the dictatorship of the exploiters. We have won the peasants to our side, we have proved in practice through the most bitter experience, through unprecedented difficulties that we, as representatives of the working class, can give the peasants better and more successful leadership than any other party. Other parties like to accuse us of carrying on a struggle against the peasants, of being unable to arrive at a proper agreement with them, and they all offer their kind and noble services to reconcile us with the peasants. We are most grateful to you, gentlemen, but we do not think that you will manage it. We, at any rate, showed long ago that we were able to do this. We did not paint the peasant rosy pictures that told him he would be able to make the transition from capitalist society without iron discipline and the firm rule of the working class; or that merely gathering votes would decide the world-historical problem of the struggle against capital. We said openly that dictatorship is a harsh, severe and even bloody word, but we said that the dictatorship of the workers will ensure the end of the yoke of the exploiters, and we proved to be correct. The peasant, having experienced both dictatorships, chose the dictatorship of the working class, and will go forward with it to complete victory. (Applause.)
Comrades, from what I have said about our international successes it follows—and, I think, it is not necessary to dwell at length on this—that we must repeat our peace proposal in a manner that is calm and business-like to the maximum degree. We must do this because it is a proposal we have made many times, and each time we gained something in the eyes of every educated man, even if he was our enemy, that made him blush with shame. That was the case when Bullitt came here, was received by Comrade Chicherin, talked with him and with me, and when we concluded a preliminary agreement on peace in the course of a few hours. And he assured us (those gentlemen like to boast) that America is everything, and who would worry about France in face of America’s strength? But when we signed the agreement the French and British ministers did this. (Lenin makes an expressive gesture with his foot. Laughter.) Bullitt was left with a useless piece of paper and he was told, “Who would have thought you were naïve and foolish enough to believe in the democracy of Britain and France?” (Applause.) The result is that in the same issue I read the full text of the agreement with Bullitt in French—and it was published in all the British and American newspapers. The result is that they are showing themselves to the whole world to be either rogues or infants—let them take their choice! (Applause.) All the sympathies even of the petty bourgeoisie, even of those bourgeois who have any sort of an education and who recall how they once fought their own tsars and kings, are on our side, because we signed the hardest possible peace terms in a business-like manner and said, “The price of the blood of our workers and soldiers is too high for us; we shall pay you businessmen a heavy tribute as the price of peace; we consent to a heavy tribute to preserve the lives of our workers and peasants.” That is why I think there is no reason for us to dwell long on this, and in conclusion I shall read a draft resolution that will express, in the name of the Congress of Soviets, our unwavering desire to pursue a policy of peace. (Applause.)
Now I wish to pass from the international and military to the political section of the report.
We have gained three tremendous victories over the Entente, and they were not only military victories. They were victories achieved by the dictatorship of the working class, and each victory strengthened our position, and not only because it weakened our enemy and lost him his troops; our international position was strengthened because on each occasion we won out in the eyes of all working people and even of many bourgeois. In this connection, the victories which we won over Kolchak and Yudenich, and are now winning over Denikin, will make it possible in the future to gain much greater sympathy by peaceful means.
We have always been accused of terrorism. This is a favourite accusation that is never absent from the columns of the press. We are accused of making terrorism a principle. To this we reply, “You yourselves do not believe this slander.” The historian Aulard, who sent a letter to i’Humanité, writes, “I have studied history and taught it. When I read that the Bolsheviks are freaks, monsters and scarecrows, I say that the same things were written about Robespierre and Danton. By no means do I compare these great men to the present Russians, nothing of the sort, there is absolutely no resemblance between them. But I say as a historian that you must not believe every rumour.” When a bourgeois historian begins speaking in this way we see that the lie being spread about us is fizzling out. We say that terror was thrust upon us. They forget that terror was provoked by the attack of the all-powerful Entente Is it not terror for the world’s fleet to blockade a starving country? Is it not terror for foreign representatives, relying on their so-called diplomatic immunity, to organise whiteguard insurrections? You must, after all, take something of a sober view of things. It must be realised that international imperialism has staked everything on suppressing the revolution, that it stops at nothing, and says, “For one officer—one Communist, and we shall win.” And they are right. If we had attempted to influence these troops, brought into being by international banditry and brutalised by war—if we had attempted to influence them by words and persuasion or by any means other than terror, we would not have held out for even two months and we would have been fools. The terror was forced on us by the terror of the Entente, the terror of mighty world capitalism which has been throttling the workers and peasants, and is condemning them to death by starvation because they are fighting for their country’s freedom. Our every victory over this prime cause of and reason for the terror will inevitably and invariably mean that we shall be able to run the country without this method of persuasion and influence.
What we say about terrorism also applies to our attitude towards all waverers. We are accused of having created extra-ordinarily difficult conditions for the middle sections of the population, for the bourgeois intellectuals. We reply that the imperialist war was a continuation of the imperialist politics and for this reason it led to revolution. During the imperialist war everyone felt that the war was being conducted by the bourgeoisie in their own selfish interests, that in this war the people died while the bourgeoisie profited. Profit is the basic motive behind the policy of the bourgeoisie in all countries, and it is ruining them and will seal their fate. Our war is the continuation of the politics of revolution, and every worker and peasant knows (and if he does not know, then he instinctively feels and sees) that this is a war of defence against the exploiters, a war demanding the greatest sacrifices from the workers and peasants, but which stops at nothing in order to ensure that these sacrifices are also borne by the other classes. We know that it is more difficult for them than it is for the workers and peasants, because they formerly belonged to a privileged class. But we say that when it is a case of freeing millions of working people from exploitation, a government that did not make other classes bear the burden would not be a socialist government but a traitor government. We have burdened the middle classes because we have been placed in extraordinarily difficult conditions by the Entente governments. Every step in our victories—as we see it from the experience of our revolution, though I cannot deal with this in detail is characterised by the fact that through all the waverings and innumerable attempts to return to the past, more and more waverers are becoming convinced that the only real choice is between the dictatorship of the working people and the rule of the exploiters. If these waverers have had a hard time, it is not the fault of the Bolshevik government, but the fault of the whiteguards, the fault of the Entente; a victory over them will be a real and sound condition for improving the lot of all these classes. In this connection, comrades, I should like, in passing on to the lessons of the political experience inside the country, to say a few words about the significance of the war.
Our war is the continuation of the politics of revolution, the politics of overthrowing the exploiters, capitalists and landowners. The workers and peasants are therefore drawn to our side despite the infinite gravity of our war. War is not only a continuation of politics, it is the epitome of politics; this unprecedentedly difficult war which the landowners and capitalists have brought down on us with the aid of the mighty Entente is political education. The workers and peasants have learned a great deal during this ordeal. The workers have learned how to use state power, and how to utilise every step for propaganda and education, how to make the Red Army, consisting mainly of peasants, an instrument for their education, how to make it an instrument for the employment of bourgeois specialists. We know that in their overwhelming majority these bourgeois specialists are, and must be, against us because of their class character; we need have no doubts on this score. Hundreds and thousands of these specialists have betrayed us, and tens of thousands have come to serve us more faithfully, drawn to us in the course of the struggle itself because that revolutionary enthusiasm which did wonders in the Red Army came from our having served and satisfied the interests of the workers and peasants. This situation, in which masses of workers and peasants act in harmony and know what they are fighting for, has had its effect, and still larger and larger sections of the people who came over to our side from the other camp, some of them unknowingly, have turned and are turning into our conscious supporters.
Comrades, the task which now confronts us is to transfer our war-time experience to the sphere of peaceful construction. There is nothing which gives us so much pleasure or provides us with such an opportunity of greeting the Seventh All-Russia Congress of Soviets as the turning-point in the history of Soviet Russia, as the fact that the main period of the civil wars we have been fighting lies behind us, and that ahead of us lies the main period of peaceful construction which means so much to all of us, which we desire, which we must carry out and to which we shall dedicate all our energies and our whole lives. We can now say, on the basis of the severe ordeals of the war, that in the main, in the military and in the international sphere, we have been victorious. The path of peaceful construction opens up before us. We have, of course, to remember that the enemy is always watching every step we take and will make many more attempts to overthrow us by all the means in his powerforce, fraud, bribery, conspiracies, etc. Our task is to direct all the experience gained in war towards the solution of the main problems of peaceful construction which I shall now enumerate. First and foremost there is the question of food supplies, the question of grain.
We have pursued a most difficult struggle against prejudices and old customs. On the one hand, the peasant is a working man, who for decades suffered the oppression of the landowner and the capitalist; with the instinct of the oppressed man he knows that they are beasts who will walk through seas of blood to regain their power. On the other hand, the peasant is a proprietor. He wants to sell his grain freely, he wants “freedom of trade”, he does not understand that the free sale of grain in a starving country means freedom to profiteer, freedom for the rich to make profits. And we say that we shall never agree to this, all of us would sooner die than make this concession.
We know that in this case we conduct a policy whereby the workers persuade the peasants to loan them grain, because the piece of paper the peasants receive in return is not the equivalent of the grain’s value. The peasant sells us grain at fixed prices but does not receive goods in return because we have none; instead he receives a piece of coloured paper. He is giving us the grain as a loan and we say to him “If you are a working man, can you deny that this is fair? How can you not agree that it is essential to loan the existing grain surpluses at fixed prices and not to dispose of them by profiteering, which means a return to capitalism, a return to exploitation, to all that we have fought against?” It was extremely difficult to do this, and we hesitated a good deal. We have taken many steps gropingly and continue to do so but we have gained some fundamental experience. When you hear the report of Comrade Tsyurupa or of others concerned with food supplies you will see that when the government says to the peasants they must loan their grain they are becoming accustomed to this system of requisitioning, for we have information from a number of volosts of its 100 per cent fulfilment. Although the successes are meagre, they are nevertheless successes, and our food supply policy enables the peasants to understand more and more clearly—if you want free sale of grain in a ruined country, go back, try out Kolchak and Denikin! We shall fight against this to the last drop of blood. There can be no concessions in this matter. On this fundamental question, the question of grain, we shall fight with all our might to prevent profiteering, to ensure that the sale of grain does not enrich the already rich, and that all grain surpluses raised on state land by the efforts of generations of working people become the property of the state and that now, when the state is impoverished, these surpluses should be loaned by the peasants to the workers’ state. If the peasant does this, we shall emerge from all our difficulties, we shall rehabilitate industry, and the worker will repay his debt to the peasant a hundredfold. He, the worker, will guarantee the peasant and his children a livelihood without their having to work for the landowner and the capitalist. That is what we tell the peasant, and he is becoming convinced there is no alternative. The peasant is being convinced of this, not so much by us, as by our enemies, Kolchak and Denikin. They, more than anybody else, are giving the peasant practical lessons in living and sending him to our side.
However, comrades, after the problem of grain comes the second question—that of fuel. At the moment sufficient stocks of grain have been collected in the grain-growing regions to feed the starving workers of Petrograd and Moscow. But if you walk through the workers’ districts of Moscow you will find them in the grip of the most frightful cold, terrible privations intensified by the fuel problem. Here we are suffering from a desperate crisis, we are lagging behind requirements. Recently a number of meetings of the Council of Defence and the Council of People’s Commissars were devoted entirely to the elaboration of measures to solve the fuel crisis. Comrade Ksandrov has supplied me with figures for my speech which show that we have begun to emerge from this desperate crisis. At the beginning of October 16,000 railway trucks were loaded in a week; by the end of October this figure had dropped to 10,000 a week. This was a crisis, a catastrophe; it meant hunger for the workers of a whole number of factories in Moscow, Petrograd and many other places. The results of this catastrophe are still being felt. And then we came to grips with the problem, bent all our energies on solving it, and did the same as we had done in military matters. We said that all politically-conscious people must throw their full weight into solving the fuel problem, not in the old, capitalist way, when the profiteers were given a bonus and enriched themselves on contracts, no, we said, solve this problem in a socialist way, by self-sacrifice; solve this problem in the same way as we saved Red Petrograd, liberated Siberia, the way we gained victory in all those difficult moments, in the face of all the difficult problems of the revolution, the way that will always bring us victory. We have advanced from loading 12,000 trucks in the last week of October and now load 20,000. We are emerging from this catastrophe, but we are far from having solved the problem. It is essential that all workers know and bear in mind that without bread for the people, without bread for industry, that is, without fuel, the country is doomed to calamity. And this applies not only to us. Today’s newspapers carry the news that in France, a victor country, the railways are grinding to a halt. What can you expect of Russia? France will crawl out of the crisis the capitalist way, that is, through the enrichment of the capitalists and the continued deprivation of the people. Soviet Russia will emerge from the crisis through the discipline and devotion of the workers, through a firm attitude towards the peasants, that firm attitude which, in the final analysis, the peasant can always understand. The peasant is learning from experience that no matter how difficult the transition, no matter how firm the state rule of the workers, it is the rule of the working man who is fighting for the alliance of the working people, for the complete abolition of all exploitation.
A third scourge is assailing us, lice, and the typhus that is mowing down our troops. Comrades, it is impossible to imagine the dreadful situation in the typhus regions, where the population is broken, weakened, without material resources, where all life, all public life ceases. To this we say, “Comrades, we must concentrate everything on this problem. Either the lice will defeat socialism, or socialism will defeat the lice!” And here too, comrades, by using the same methods as elsewhere, we are beginning t achieve success. There are still some doctors, of course, who hold preconceived notions and have no faith in workers’ rule, who prefer to draw fees from the rich rather than fight the hard battle against typhus. But these are a minority, they are becoming fewer, and the majority see that the people are struggling for their very existence, they realise that by their struggle the people desire to solve the fundamental question of preserving civilisation. These doctors are behaving in this arduous and difficult matter with no less devotion than the military specialists. They are willing to put themselves at the service of the working people. I must say that we are beginning to emerge also from this crisis. Comrade Semashko has given me some information about this work., According to news from the front, 122 doctors and 467 assistants had arrived at the front by October 1. One hundred and fifty doctors have been sent from Moscow. We have reason to believe that by December 15 another 800 doctors will have arrived at the front to help in the battle against typhus. We must pay great attention to this affliction.
We must concentrate on consolidating our foundation—grain, fuel, and the battle against typhus. I particularly wish to mention these matters because a certain lack of co-ordination has been noted in our socialist construction, and understandably so. When people have decided to transform the whole world, it is only natural that inexperienced workers and inexperienced peasants should be drawn into this work. There can be no doubt that a considerable period must elapse before we are able to determine where our chief attention should be concentrated. It is not surprising that such great historical tasks frequently give rise to great visions, which develop side by side with many small, unsuccessful dreams. There have been many instances when we wanted to build a house from above, starting from a small upper wing, a cornice, but paid no real attention to the foundations. I must tell you that from my own experience, from my observations of the work being performed, it is my opinion that the essential task for our policy is to lay that foundation. It is necessary for every worker, every organisation, every institution to bear this in mind at every meeting. If we are able to supply grain, if we succeed in increasing the fuel supply, if we devote all our efforts to wiping out typhus in Russia—the typhus which comes from a lack of culture, from poverty, backwardness and ignorance—if we devote to this bloodless war all the strength and experience gained in a bloody war we can be certain that we shall achieve ever greater successes in this work, which is, after all, much easier and much more humane than a war.
We have carried out military mobilisation. The parties which were our most uncompromising opponents, which to a far greater extent than others supported and still support the ideas of capitalism (the Socialist-Revolutionaries, for instance), have had to recognise, despite all the accusations rained on us by the bourgeois imperialists, that the Red Army has become a people’s army. This indicates that in this most difficult, task we have achieved the alliance of the working class with the great mass of peasants who are coming over to the side of the working class, and we have, by this means, shown the peasants what is meant by the leadership of the working’ class.
The words “dictatorship of the proletariat” frighten the peasants. In Russia it was a bogey for the peasants but these words now recoil on the heads of people who try to use them as a bogey. The peasants now realise that, while the words “dictatorship of the proletariat” are perhaps too fancy Latin words, in practice they stand for that selfsame Soviet power which transfers the state apparatus to the workers. This being the case, the dictatorship is the true friend and ally of the working people and the merciless enemy of any form of exploitation. That is why we shall ultimately defeat all imperialists, for we possess a profound source of strength, a deep and extensive reservoir of human material, such as has never been accessible to any bourgeois government and never will be. We possess the material from which we can draw ever greater and more profound strength starting from the most advanced workers and continuing with average workers, and even lower down the scale, with labouring peasants, poor and greatly impoverished peasants. The Petrograd comrades have recently said that Petrograd has given up all its workers and can supply no more. But When a critical hour struck, Petrograd showed itself to be remarkable, as Comrade Zinoviev justly said, it proved to be a town that seemed able to give birth to new forces. Workers, who had no experience in politics or government, who were considered below the average in political consciousness, drew themselves up to their full stature, provided the huge forces for propaganda, agitation, organisation, and performed new miracles. We still have a great deal of this source of new miracles. Every new section of workers and peasants that has not yet been drawn into our work is, nevertheless, our true friend and ally. At the present moment we frequently have to rely on a very small section of leading workers in government work. In the course of our Party work and our Soviet practice we must approach non-party people, non-party workers and peasants, more boldly, approach them again and again, not for the purpose of winning them over to our side immediately, or of drawing them into the Party—that is not so important for us—but of making them understand that their help is needed to save the country. When those whom the landowners and capitalists least of all permitted to participate in running the state are brought to realise that we are calling on them to join us in building the solid foundation for the Socialist Republic our cause will be really invincible.
That is why, on the basis of two years’ experience, we can say to you with absolute certainty that every one of our military victories will greatly hasten the approach of the time—now very near—when we can devote the whole of our energy to peaceful construction. On the basis of experience gained, we can guarantee that in the next few years we shall perform even greater miracles in peaceful construction than we did in the two years of victorious war against the all-powerful Entente. (Applause.)
Comrades, in conclusion, allow me to read to you the draft of a motion which I now put before you.
“The Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic wishes to live in peace with all peoples and devote all its efforts to internal development in order to establish the smooth running of production, transport and government affairs on the basis of the Soviet system; this has so far been prevented by the intervention of the Entente and the starvation blockade.
“The workers’ and peasants’ government has made frequent peace proposals to the Entente powers—the message from the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs to the American representative, Mr. Poole, on August 5, 1918; to President Wilson on October 24, 1918; to all Entente governments through representatives of neutral countries on November 3, 1918; a message from the Sixth All-Russia Congress of Soviets on November 7, 1918; Litvinov’s Note in Stockholm to all Entente representatives on December 23, 1918; then there were the messages of January 12, January 17 and February 4, 1919, and the draft treaty drawn up jointly with Bullitt on March 12, 1919; and a message through Nansen on May 7, 1919.
“The Seventh Congress of Soviets fully approves these many steps taken by the Council of People’s Commissars and the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, once more confirms its unwavering desire for peace and again proposes to the Entente powers, Britain, France, the United States of America, Italy and Japan, individually and collectively, to begin immediately negotiations on peace; the Congress instructs the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, the Council or People’s Commissars and the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs to continue this peace policy systematically, takingall appropriate measures to ensure its success,”
2. Concluding speech on the report of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars[edit source]
(Voices: “Long live Comrade Lenin! Hurrah!” Applause.) Comrades, it seems to me that in his speech and by his declaration, Martov has managed to give us an extraordinarily fine sample of the attitude towards Soviet power of the groups and parties that formerly belonged, and still belong, to the Second International, and against which we have now founded the Communist International. The difference between Martov’s speech and his declaration must have struck each one of you—the difference that Comrade Sosnovsky stressed in the remark he shouted to Martov from the presidium, “Isn’t that last year’s declaration you have?” Martov’s speech, indeed, most certainly belongs to 1919, to the end of that year, but his declaration is so compiled that it contains a complete repetition of what was said in 1918. (Applause.) And when Martov replied to Sosnovsky by saying that the declaration was “for all eternity” I was quite ready to take the Mensheviks under my wing and defend them from Martov. (Applause. Laughter.) I, comrades, have watched the development and activities of the Mensheviks, probably longer and more attentively—which has by no means been pleasant—than anybody else. On the basis of this fifteen years of study I assert that the declaration, far from being “for all eternity”, will not last a single year (applause), because the entire development of the Mensheviks, especially in a great period such as has begun in the history of the Russian revolution, reveals the greatest vacillation among them and, taken by and large, this boils down to their parting company with the bourgeoisie and their prejudices, only with the greatest difficulty and against their own will. A number of times they have fought shy of the dictatorship of the proletariat but they are now beginning to approach it—to approach it very slowly but very surely—and I am certain that in another year they will take a few more steps. And then it will be impossible to repeat that declaration, because if you remove its envelope of general democratic phrases and parliamentary expressions that would do credit to the leader of a parliamentary opposition, if you cast aside those speeches that so many people like but which we find boring, and get down to the real root of the matter, then the entire declaration says “Back to bourgeois democracy” and nothing more. (Applause.) And when we hear people who profess sympathy with us making such declarations we say to ourselves, “Yes, the terror and the Cheka are absolutely indispensable.” (Applause.)
Comrades, so that you will not now accuse me, and so that nobody will be able to accuse me, of picking holes in that declaration, I assert, on the basis of political facts, that a Right Menshevik and a Right Socialist-Revolutionary would readily subscribe to it with both hands. I have proof of this. The Council of the Party of Right Socialist-Revolutionaries from which Voisky and his group had to break away—Volsky is the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly Committee, you heard him speak here—the Council of the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries which met this year has resolved that they wish to merge with the Menshevik Party which they consider close to them. Why? Because Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, who support Mensheviks whose declaration is construed throughout on the same principles as that of the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, stand behind the printing of the things that are in the declaration and in Menshevik publications (which are supposed to be purely theoretical and which we are wrong in prohibiting, as the Bund representative said when she complained that the country does not enjoy full freedom of the press). At that time, after a long struggle, Voisky’s group had to break away. That is the mess which shows quite clearly that the matter is not one of our cavilling at the Mensheviks but of the real state of affairs—this is shown by the Socialist-Revolutionary minority group. Here, quite rightly, the Menshevik Rozanov was mentioned, whom Martov and the party would probably have expelled—and it is this declaration the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks subscribe to.
This means that until now there are two different trends among them—one of them is sorry, weeps, condoles and wishes to return to democracy theoretically, while the other acts. And Martov was wrong in saying I was trying to justify myself on the question of terrorism. That one expression alone shows how infinitely far the views of the petty-bourgeois democrats are from ours and how close they are o those of the Second International. Actually there is nothing at all socialist in them, but the exact opposite. Now that socialism is near, old bourgeois views are again being preached to us. I did not try to justify myself, I spoke about a special party, a party that has been created by the war, a party of officers who were in command throughout the imperialist war, who have come to the fore in this war and who know what real politics are. When we are told “You must either abolish your Cheka or organise it better” we reply, comrades, by saying that we do not claim that everything we are doing is of the best and we are ready and willing to learn without the slightest bias. But as those people who were in the Constituent Assembly want to teach us how to organise a security force against sons of landowners, against whiteguard officers, we tell them, “You were in power and fought with Kerensky against Kornilov, and you were with Kolchak, and those same whiteguards kicked you out like little children without a struggle. And after that you still say that our Cheka is badly organised!” (Applause.) Oh, no, our Cheka is magnificently organised. (Applause.) And when the conspirators in Germany now mistreat workers, when officers led by Field Marshals over there shout “Down with the Berlin government”, when, over there, they can murder Communist leaders with impunity and when a crowd of whiteguards treats leaders of the Second international like children, we see clearly that this collaborationist government is nothing more than a plaything in the hands of the group of plotters. When we have this example before us, when we are only just stepping out on to the road, these people say “You have exaggerated terror”. How many weeks is it since we discovered the conspiracy in Petrograd How many weeks is it since Yudenich was a few versts from Petrograd and Denikin a few versts from Orel? Spokesmen of those wavering parties and of that wavering democracy say to us “We are glad that Yudenich and Kolchak have been defeated”. I am quite willing to believe that they are glad because they know whatYudenichand Kolchak had in store for them. (Applause.) I do not suspect these people of insincerity. But I ask them: when the Soviet government is experiencing a difficult period and plots are being hatched by bourgeois elements and when at a critical moment we manage to lay bare these plots—do they think they are discovered accidentally? Oh, no, not accidentally. They are discovered because the plotters live among the masses, because they cannot succeed in their plots without the workers and peasants and it is there that, in the long run, they run up against people who go to that badly organised, as they said here, Cheka and say that exploiters are gathered in a certain place. (Applause.) And when some people come to us a short time after we have been in mortal danger and when we are faced with a conspiracy that is obvious to everyone, and tell us that the Constitution is not being observed and that the Cheka is badly organised, one may say that they have not learned any politics during the struggle against the whiteguards, they have not given any thought to their experience of Kerensky, Yudenich and Kolchak and have not been able to draw any practical conclusions from it. But since, gentlemen, you are beginning to understand that Kolchak and Denikin constitute a serious danger, that you must choose in favour o Soviet power, it is time for you to drop Martov’s declaration “for all eternity”. (Laughter.) The Constitution contains all the experience of our two years of rule, and without that rule, as I said in my speech, and nobody even tried to refute it, without it we could not have held out for two months, let alone two years. Let anyone who wishes to be at all objective about Soviet power, if only from the standpoint of an historian and not of a politician who wishes to talk to the working-class masses, act with them and influence them—let him try to refute that.
It is said that the Soviets meet rarely and are not re-elected often enough. It seems to me that such reproaches should not be answered by speeches and resolutions but by deeds. In my opinion the best answer would be for you to finish the work begun by the Soviet government of assessing how many elections to uyezd and urban Soviets there have been, how many congresses of Soviets, etc. Comrade Vlaclimirsky, Deputy People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs, has published material on the history of those congresses. When I saw that material I said that this is historical material that proves, among other things, that there has never been in the history of civilised nations a country that has applied proletarian democracy as widely as we have in Russia. It is said that Soviets are not re-elected often enough, that we rarely convene congresses, but I invite every delegate to apply to the relevant bodies for additional questionnaires to be distributed at this Congress on which every delegate can record on which day, month and year and in which uyezd, town or village congresses of Soviets met. If you do this simple job and each of you fills in a questionnaire of that sort you will obtain material to complement our incomplete data and which will show that in a time as difficult as war-time, when the century-old European constitutions that have become a matter of habit for the West-European people have been almost completely suspended, the Soviet Constitution is in force in the localities to a greater degree than a constitution anywhere else in the world insofar as concerns the participation of the masses in government and in the independent solution of government matters at congresses, in the Soviets and at elections. And if it is still said that this is not enough, and if there is criticism and it is asserted that It is really a terrible crime if your Central Executive Committee has not met”, well, Comrade Trotsky gave a splendid answer to the Bund representative on this score when he said that the Central Executive Committee was at the front. The representative of the Bund—that Bund which upholds the Soviet platform and for that reason might really be expected at long last to understand what the foundation of Soviet power is—said this (I wrote it down), “How strange that the Central Executive Committee was at the front, it could have sent others.”
We are fighting against Kolchak, Denikin and the others—there have been a lot of them! It ends with Russian troops chasing them away like children. We are conducting a difficult and victorious war. You know that with every invasion we had to send all the members of the Central Executive Committee to the front and then we are told “How strange, they should have found others”. Were we functioning outside time and space, or what? Or are we supposed to give birth to Communists (applause) at the rate of a few every week? That is something we cannot do; workers who have been tempered by several years of struggle and who have acquired the necessary experience to be able to lead are fewer in our country than in any other. We have to adopt all measures to train young workers, trainees, and that will take several months, years even. And when this is taking place under very difficult circumstances, we are treated to grins for our trouble. These grins only prove a complete failure to understand these conditions. It is really a ridiculous intellectualist lack of understanding, when we are compelled in these war conditions to act differently from the way we have acted up to now. We have to strain our forces to the utmost and for this reason have to give up our best officials and Central and local Executive Committee members for the front. I am sure that nobody who has any practical experience in administration will condemn us; he will, on the contrary, approve of our having done the maximum possible to reduce collegiate bodies belonging to executive committees to a minimum until, under pressure of war, only the executive committee itself was left, because the functionaries hurried to the front in the same way as they are now rushing in hundreds and thousands to engage in fuel supply work. That is the foundation without which the Soviet Republic cannot exist. And if the less frequent meetings of the Soviets for a few months is the price at which this has to’be purchased, then any sensible worker or peasant will understand the need for it and will approve of it.
I have said that in respect of democracy and the democrats we are still being offered the prejudices of bourgeois democracy in their entirety. An opposition party has said here that the suppression of the bourgeoisie must be stopped. One should think of what one is saying. What does the suppression of the bourgeoisie mean? The landowner could be suppressed and destroyed by abolishing landed proprietorship and transferring the land to the peasants. But can the bourgeoisie be suppressed and destroyed by the abolition of big capital? Anyone who knows the ABC of Marxism knows that the bourgeoisie cannot be suppressed in this way, knows that the bourgeoisie is born of commodity production; the peasant who has a surplus of hundreds of poods of grain that he does not need for his family and does not deliver, to the workers’ state as a loan to help the hungry worker, and profiteers under the prevailing conditions of commodity production—what is he? Is he not a bourgeois?Is the bourgeoisie not born in this way? On this issue, the grain issue, and on the question of the torments of hunger being suffered by all industrial Russia, do we get any assistance from those who reproach us with not observing the Constitution, with having suppressed the bourgeoisie? No! Do they help us in this respect? They hide behind the words “concord of the workers and peasants”. That concord, of course, is necessary. We showed how we achieve it on October 26, 1917, when we took that part of the programme of the Socialist-Revolutionaries which supports the peasants and put it into operation in full. In that way we showed that the peasant who had been exploited by the landowners, who lives by his own labour and does not profiteer, finds a true protector in the worker sent to him by the central state authority. In this way we have effected concord with the peasants. When we pursue a food policy requiring that surplus grain not needed by the peasant family be given to the workers as a state loan, any objection to it supports profiteering. This still exists among the petty-bourgeois masses who are accustomed to living in the bourgeois way. This is a terrible thing, this is a danger to the social revolution! Have the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries ever done anything to help us in this respect, even the most Left of them? No, they never have! And their publications, that we are supposed to permit for the sake of “principles of liberty” and samples of which we have in our possession, show that they never by a single word—to say nothing of deeds—do anything to help us. Until we have fully conquered the old habit, the accursed old gospel of everyone for himself and God for all, we have no alternative but to requisition grain surpluses as a loan to the hungry workers. It is terribly difficult to do this—we know that. Here nothing can be accomplished by force. Nevertheless it is ridiculous to say that we represent a minority of the working class—that can only make one laugh. That could be said in Paris, although workers’ meetings there would not listen to such statements either. In a country where the government has been overthrown with unusual ease, where the workers and peasants are defending their own interests arms in hand, where they employ the rifle as the instrument of their will—to say in such a country that we represent a minority of the working class is absurd. I can understand such statements on the lips of Clemenceau, Lloyd George or Wilson. They are their words and their ideas! But when the speeches of Wilson, Clernenceau, and Lloyd George, the worst of the predators, the wild beasts of imperialism, are repeated hero by Martov in the Dame of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (laughter), then I say to myself that we have to be on the alert and to realise that the Cheka is indispensable! (Applause.)
All the opposition speakers, the Bund representatives included, accuse us of not abiding by the Constitution. I maintain that we observe the Constitution most strictly. (Voice from a box: “Oho!”) And although I hear an ironic “Oho!” from a box that was once the royal box arid is now the opposition box (laughter) I shall nevertheless prove it. (Applause.) I will read to you the article of the Constitution that we observe most strictly and which shows that in all our activities we stick to the Constitution. Whenever I have had to speak’ about the Constitution at meetings attended by followers of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries there has always been difficulty in finding the text of the Constitution to quote. The meetings, however, were mostly held in halls where there was a Constitution hanging on the wall. In this hall there is none, but Comrade Petrovsky has saved the situation by lending me a pamphlet entitled Constitution of the RSFSR I shall read Article 23: “Guided by the interests of the working class as a whole, the R.S.F.S.R, deprives certain persons and certain groups of rights they use to the detriment of the interests of the socialist revolution.”
I say once again, comrades, that we have never regarded our activity in general and our Constitution in particular as models of perfection. The question of changes to the Constitution has been raised at this Congress. We agree to make changes, let us take a look at the changes; they will not, however, remain constant “for all eternity”. If you still want to fight, let it be a clean fight, If you want us to abide by the Constitution, why don’t you want us to abide by Article 23? (Applause.) If this is not what you want, then let us discuss whether it is necessary to annul the article which says we should not go to the people with talk about universal freedom and the universal equality of the working people. You have made an excellent study of constitutional law, but you have learned from old bourgeois text-books. You recall words about “democracy and freedom”, you refer to the Constitution and you recall former words, and you promise the people everything in order not to fulfil that promise. We do not promise anything of the sort, we do not propose equality of workers and peasants. You do, so let’s dispute the issue. There shall be complete equality, friendship and a fraternal alliance with those peasants who were exploited by the landowners and capitalists and who are now working to support their families on land taken from the landowners. We shall not, however, grant equality to those peasants who, because of their old habits, ignorance and avarice, are pulling back towards the bourgeoisie. You use general phrases about freedom of equality for the working people, about democracy and alou the equality of workers and peasants. We do not promise that the Constitution will guarantee liberty and equality in general. Freedom—but for which class and for what purpose? Equality—who shall be equal to whom? For those who labour, who were exploited for dozens and hundreds of years by the bourgeoisie and who are now fighting against the bourgeoisie? It is so stated in the Constitution: “The dictatorship of the workers and poor peasants for the suppression of the bourgeoisie.” When you speak about the Constitution, why don’t you quote those words: “for the suppression of the bourgeoisie, for the suppression of the profiteers”? Show us a model country, a model of your splendid Menshevik constitution. Perhaps you will find such a model in the history, say, of Samara, where the Mensheviks were in power. Perhaps you will find it in Georgia where the Mensheviks are in power today, where the suppression of the bourgeoisie, the profiteers, is proceeding under conditions of complete freedom and equality, under conditions of consistent democracy and without a Cheka. Show us such a model and we shall learn from it. You cannot, however, demonstrate such a model for you know that in all places where the collaborationists hold power, where the government is Menshevik or semi-Menshevik, feverish, unhampered speculation reigns. And the Vienna that Trotsky justly spoke about in his speech, where people like Friedrich Adler are in the government and which does not know “the horrors of Bolshevism”,js as hungry and tormented as Petrograd and Moscow, but without the knowledge that the Viennese workers at the cost of hunger are breaking a road to victory over the bourgeoisie. Vienna is suffering more from hunger than Petrograd or Moscow and right there the Austrian and Viennese bourgeoisie are committing monstrous acts of speculation and, plunder in the Viennese streets, in the Nevsky Prospekt and Kuznetsky Most[Nevsky Prospekt and Kuznetsky Most were the shopping centres of pre-revolutionary Petrograd and Moscow respectively.—Editor.] of Vienna. You do not abide by the Constitution, but we do when we recognise freedom and equality only for those who help the proletariat defeat the bourgeoisie. And in Article 23 we say that the land will not flow with milk and honey during the transition period. We say that we have to hold out, not for months, but for years, in order to complete the transition period. After two years we can say (and we shall most likely be believed) that we are able to hold out for several years only because we have inscribed in the Constitution that certain persons and groups are deprived of rights. We do not conceal from whom we have taken away the rights, we say openly that it is the group of Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries. The leaders of the Second International condemned us for this, but we say outright to the group of Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries that we are ready to grant everything, but they must help us pursue the policy of the working people against the profiteers, against those who are helping food profiteering, those who are helping the bourgeoisie. Insofar as you prove this to us by deeds we shall free you from what has been done to you by the Constitution, but until then your empty words are mere evasion. Our Constitution is not noted for its rhetoric, it says to the peasants—if you are a labouring peasant you possess all rights, but there can be no equality of rights for all in a society in which workers are starving and where a fight against the bourgeoisie is under way. And it says to the workers—equality for those peasants who are helping in the struggle against the bourgeoisie, but no generalisations! In this field there will be a hard struggle. We accept with the greatest pleasure anyone who wants to help, irrespective of his past and irrespective of all titles. And we know that more and more such people are coming to us from other parties and from among the non-party people and this is a guarantee of our victory. (Loud applause. Shouts of “Bravo”.)
3. Speech In The Organisation Section[edit source]
Comrades, I have received a number of notes from delegates asking me to speak on this issue. I did not think there was any need for it, and I refrained from speaking until I received these invitations because I unfortunately have had no opportunity of acquiring a practical knowledge of work in the localities and it stands to reason that the knowledge obtained through work in the Council of People’s Commissars is insufficient. I am, furthermore, in complete agreement with what Comrade Trotsky has said and shall, therefore, confine myself to some brief comments.
When the question was raised in the Council of People’s Commissars of the state farms and their transfer to gubernia land departments, and when the question of chief administrations and central boards was raised, there was no doubt in my mind that there are more than a few counter-revolutionary elements in both types of institution. But when attempts are made to accuse the state farms of being particularly counter-revolutionary institutions it has always seemed to me, and still does, that it is missing the mark, for neither the state farms, nor the chief administrations and central boards, nor any kind of big industrial establishment, or, in general, any central or local organisation administering a branch of economy of any importance, can and does manage without solving the problem of the employment of bourgeois specialists. It seems to me that attacks on the chief administrations and boards, though fully justified because a thorough purge of them is needed, are nevertheless mistaken, because in the present case this type of institution is chosen indiscriminately from a number of similar institutions. It is, however, as clear as daylight from the work of the Economic Council that on no account must the chief administrations and boards and the state farms be specially selected in this matter because all our Soviet work, whether in the military field, or in the health services; or in education, has everywhere been up against, and is still up against, problems of this sort. We cannot recast the state apparatus and train a sufficient number of workers and peasants to make them fully acquainted with the government of the state without the aid of the old specialists. This is the main lesson to be learned from all our organisational work, and this experience tells us that in all spheres, including the military sphere, the old specialists—they are called old because of this—cannot be taken from anywhere except from capitalist society. That society made possible the training of specialists from far too narrow strata of the population, those that belonged to the families of landowners and capitalists, with only an insignificant number of peasant origin and only from among the wealthy peasants at that. If, therefore, we take into consideration the situation in which those people grew up and that in which they are now working, it is absolutely inevitable that these specialists, i.e., those skilled in administration on a broad, national scale, are to nine-tenths permeated with old bourgeois views and prejudices and even in those cases when they are not downright traitors (and this is not something that happens occasionally but is a regular feature), even then they are not capable of understanding the new conditions, the new tasks and the new requirements. On these grounds friction, failures and disorder are apparent everywhere, in all commissariats.
It seems to me, therefore, that people are missing the mark when they shout about reactionaries in the state farms, chief administrations and boards, attempting to separate this question from the general one of how to teach a large number of workers and peasants to administrate on a broad national scale. We are doing this at a speed that, if you take into consideration the backwardness of the country and the difficulty of our conditions, is certainly unknown in world history. No matter how great that speed is, it still does not satisfy us, because our requirements in workers and peasants capable of administrative work and acquainted with special branches of administration are tremendous and are not being met even ten, even one per cent. When we are told, or when it is demonstrated at meetings of the Council of People’s Commissars, that the state farms everywhere are hiding-places for old landowners who are slightly disguised or are not disguised at all, that nests of the bureaucracy are being built there, and that similar things are often to be observed in chief administrations and central boards, I never doubt that it is true. But I did say that if you think you can remedy this evil by handing the state farms over to the gubernia land departments you are mistaken.
Why are there more counter-revolutionary elements left in the chief administrations and central boards and in the state farms than there are in the army? Why are there fewer of them among the military? Because greater attention was, on the whole, paid to the military sphere and more Communists, more workers and peasants were sent there, political departments worked on a broader scale there, in short, the influence of advanced workers and peasants on the entire military apparatus was broader, more profound and more regular. Owing to this we have succeeded, if not in eradicating the evil, at least in being close to eradicating it. To this, I say, the greatest attention should be paid.
We are taking only the first steps towards getting the state farms in close contact with the neighbouring peasants and with communist groups so that there will be commissars everywhere, not only in the army and not only on paper. No matter whether they will be called members of a collegiurn, assistant managers or commissars, there must be individual responsibility—this and individual management are as necessary as collectivism is essential in discussing basic questions if there is to be no red tape and no opportunity to evade responsibility. We need people who will learn to administer independently in all cases. If this is done we shall overcome the evil in the best manner.
I am in complete agreement, let me say in conclusion, with Comrade Trotsky when he says that here many incorrect attempts have been made to present our disputes as being between workers and peasants and that the question of the administrations and boards has been woven into the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In my opinion this is radically wrong. The question of the dictatorship of the proletariat may be raised when the issue is that of suppressing the bourgeoisie. Then we have to think about this question, then we need the dictatorship because only through it can we suppress the bourgeoisie and place power in the hands of that section of the working people that is capable of acting unwaveringly and attracting to itself ever greater numbers of the vacillating. In the present case we are not faced with anything of the sort. We are discussing how much more or how much less centralism is needed in a certain field at a certain moment. Since the comrades from the localities assure us (and Comrade Trotsky and many people’s commissars confirm it) that in recent times in the gubernias and, to a considerable degree, in the uyezds, functionaries of a higher type have appeared (I am constantly hearing such an assertion also from Comrade Kalinin who has visited many places, and from comrades arriving here from the provinces), we shall have to take that into consideration and ask ourselves whether the matter of centralism is rightly understood in the present instance. I m sure we shall have to undertake a very great deal of this sort of correcting in the work of Soviet institutions. We are only now beginning to acquire organisational experience in this field. Insofar as we can see this experience from inside the Council of Defence arid the Council of People’s Commissars, it is quite obvious that it cannot be expressed by any figures and that it is impossible to talk about it in a short speech. We are sure, however, that in the localities work is being done in accordance with the general instructions of the central authorities. This has been achieved only in recent times.
This is by no means a question of a conflict between the dictatorship of the proletariat and other social elements. It is a matter of the experience of our Soviet organisational work, experience which, in my opinion, does not even concern the Constitution. Much has been said here about changes to the Constitution. But I do not think it has anything to do with this. The Constitution speaks of centralism s the basic principle. This basic principle is so indisputable for all of us (we all learned it from the impressive and even brutal object-lesson of Kolchak, Yudenih, Denikin and guerrilla bands) that here it cannot come into question. Nor does Comrade Sapronov reject the basic principle of centralism when it is a matter of granting a people’s commissar or the Council of People’s Commissars the right to challenge a candidate. It is not a constitutional question but one of practical convenience. We have to bring pressure to bear, first in one, then in another direction, in order to achieve positive results. When we are talking about gubernia state farm boards, or gubernia land departments, the stress is on placing them under the control of workers and neighbouring peasants. This is irrespective of whom they are subordinated to. It seems to me that no changes to the Constitution will ever enable you to kick outthe hidden landowners or the disguised capitalists and bourgeois. We must introduce into our institutions a sufficient number of workers and peasants who are loyal beyond all doubt and who have practical experience as members of small collegiums, as assistants to some managers or as commissars. That’s the crux of the matter! In this way you will have an ever greater number of workers and peasants who are learning to administer, and if they go through a complete schooling side by side with the old specialists they will take their places, carry out the same tasks and will train for our civil business, for the management of industry, for the direction of economic activities, a corps of officers to replace the personnel in the same way as that is being done in our war department. Therefore, I do not think there is any reason to proceed from considerations of principle as has here sometimes been the case; we must examine the question as one of practical experience and not as a constitutional one. If the majority of local functionaries, after an all-round discussion of the problem, come to the conclusion that gubernia state farm boards should be subordinated to the gubernia land departments—so well and good, we’ll experiment on those lines and then decide the issue from the point of view of practical experience. First of all, however, we have to decide whether we shall get rid of the disguised landowners in this way, whether we shall make better use of the specialists. Shall we in this way train a larger number of workers and peasants to take over the management themselves? Shall we be drawing the neighbouring peasantry into the practical check-up of the state farms? Shall we be elaborating practical forms, for that check-up? That is what really matters! If we solve these problems I do not think we shall have wasted our time and our labour. Let us try different systems in the different people’s commissariats; let us establish one system for state farms, chief administrations and central boards and another for the army or the Commissariat of Health. Our job is to attract, by way of experiment, large numbers of specialists, then replace them by training anew officers’ corps, a new body of specialists who will have to learn the extremely difficult, new and complicated business of administration. The forms this will take will not necessarily be identical. Comrade Trotsky was quite right in saying that this is not written in any of the books we might consider our guides, it does not follow from any socialist world outlook, it has not been determined by anybody’s experience but will have to be determined by our own experience. It seems to me that in this respect we must pool experience of communist organisation and test it by its practical implementation, so that we shall fully determine bow we must tackle the problems that confront us.
4. Speech delivered on the closing of the Congress[edit source]
(Prolonged applause. Delegates and visitors rise and applaud stormily for several minutes.) Comrades, I should like to say a few words apropos of the most important items we have dealt with at this Congress.
We had a brief discussion, comrades, on the question of democracy and Soviet power. Although it may seem at first glance that this discussion was far removed from the burning, practical, day-to-day problems of the Soviet Republic, I nevertheless think that it was far from useless. Comrades, in workers’ organisations throughout the world and very often in bourgeois parliaments, and, in any case, during elections to bourgeois parliaments, there is today the same basic discussion on democracy—which, although many people do not realise it, is the old bourgeois democracy —and on the new, Soviet, power. Old or bourgeois democracy proclaims freedom and equality, equality irrespective of whether a person owns anything or not, irrespective of whether he is the owner of capital or not; it proclaims freedom for private owners to dispose of land and capital and freedom for those who have neither to sell their workers’ hands to a capitalist.
Comrades, our Soviet power has made a determined break with that freedom and that equality which is a lie (applause) and has said to the working people that socialists who understand freedom and equality in the bourgeois way have forgotten the germ, the ABC and all the content of socialism. We, and all the socialists who have not yet betrayed socialism, have always exposed the lies, fraud and hypocrisy of bourgeois society that talk about freedom and equality, or, at any rate, about the freedom and equality of elections, although actually the power of the capitalists, the private ownership of land and factories, predetermines not freedom but the oppression and deception of the working people under every possible kind of “democratic and republican” system.
We say that our aim, being the aim of world socialism, is the abolition of classes and that classes are groups of people, one of which lives by the labour of another, one of which appropriates the labour of another. And so, if we are to speak of that freedom and that equality we shall have to admit, as most of the working people in Russia do, that no other country has as yet given as much in such a short time for real freedom and real equality, no other country has, in such a short time, given the working people freedom from the main class that oppresses them, the class of land-owners and capitalists, and no other country has granted such equality in respect of the chief means of subsistence, the land. It is along this road, that of emancipation from the exploiting bourgeois classes up to the complete abolition of the classes, that we have begun and are continuing a resolute struggle for the complete abolition of classes. We know full well that those classes have been defeated but not destroyed. We know full well that the landowners and capitalists have been defeated but not destroyed. The class struggle continues, and the proletariat, together with the poor peasantry, must continue the struggle for the complete abolition of classes, attracting to their side all those who stand in the middle, and by their entire experience, their example of struggle they must ensure that all those who until now have stood in the ranks of the wavering are attracted to their side.
Comrades, going over to the business of our Congress, I must say that the Seventh Congress is the first that has been able to devote a lot of time to the practical tasks of organisation, for the first time we have succeeded in making a start on a practical discussion, based directly on practical experience, of those tasks that concern the better organisa-tion of Soviet economy and the better organisation of Soviet government.
We have, of course, had too little time to deal with this problem in great detail but we have, nevertheless, done a lot here, and all the further work of the Central Executive Committee and of the comrades in the localities will follow the lines laid down here.
In conclusion, comrades, I should like to make special mention of the way the present Congress is to become effective insofar as our international situation is concerned.
Comrades, we have here repeated our peace proposal to all the powers and countries of the Entente. We have here expressed confidence based on experience that is already very rich and of a very serious nature—our confidence that the main difficulties are behind us and that we are undoubtedly emerging victorious from the war forced on us by the Entente, the war that we have been fighting for two years against an enemy considerably stronger than we are.
But I think, comrades, that the appeal we have just beard from a representative of our Red Army was nevertheless very timely. If the main difficulties have been left behind, comrades, we have to admit that ahead of us, too, organisational tasks are developing on an extremely broad scale. There can be no doubt that there are still very influential and very strong capitalist groups, groups that are obviously dominant in many countries and that have decided to continue the war against Soviet Russia to the end, cost what it may. There can be no doubt that now we have achieved a certain decisive victory we shall have to devote additional efforts, we shall have to bend still greater effort in order to exploit that victory and carry it through to the end. (Applause.)
Comrades, there are two things you must not forget—first, our general weakness connected, perhaps, with the Slav character—we are not stable enough, not persistent enough in pursuing the aims we set ourselves—secondly, experience has shown, once in the East and again in the South, that in a decisive moment we were unable to press hard enough on a fleeing enemy and have allowed him to rise to his feet again. There can be not a shadow of doubt that governments and the military classes of Western Europe are now drawing up new plans to save Denikin. There cannot be the slightest doubt that they will try to increase tenfold the aid they have been giving him because they realise how great is the danger threatening him from Soviet Russia. We must, therefore, tell ourselves at a time when the victories are beginning, as we did in times of difficulty, “Comrades, remember that it may now depend on a few weeks or perhaps two or three months whether we end this war, not merely with a decisive victory, but with the complete destruction of the enemy, or whether we shall condemn tens and hundreds of thousands of people to a lengthy and tormenting war. On the basis of the experience we have acquired we can now say with full confidence that if we can redouble our efforts the possibility of not only achieving a final victory, but also of destroying the enemy and gaining for ourselves a durable and lengthy peace depends on a few weeks or on two or three months ....”
Therefore, comrades, I should like more than anything to ask each of you on arriving in your locality to present this question to every Party organisation, to every Soviet institution and to every meeting of workers and peasants comrades, this winter campaign will most certainly lead to the complete destruction of the enemy if we, encouraged by success and by the clear prospects for Soviet development that now open up before us, regard the forthcoming weeks and months as a period of hard work in which we must redouble our war effort and other work connected with it, and we shall then in the shortest time destroy the enemy, and put an end to the Civil War, which will open up before us the possibility for peaceful socialist construction for a long time. (Applause.)
- ↑ On November 5, 1918, the German Government broke off diplomatic relations with the RSFSR and expelled the staff of the Soviet Embassy from Berlin on the pretext that official Soviet representatives had been conducting revolutionary agitation in Germany. Diplomatic relations were not resumed until 1922.
- ↑ The Dreyfus case—a provocative trial engineered in 1894 by reactionary French militarists. Dreyfus, a Jewish officer of the French General Staff, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court martial on a clearly fictitious charge of espionage and high treason. The trial was used by reactionary circles in France to incite anti-Semitism and to attack the republican regime and democratic liberties. When socialists and prominent bourgeois democrats (Emile Zola, Jean Jaurès, Anatole France and others) launched a campaign in 1898 for a review of the Dreyfus case, it immediately became a political issue and split the country into two camps—republicans and democrats on one side and the bloc of royalists, clericals, anti-Semites and nationalists on the other. In 1899 Dreyfus was pardoned and released under pressure of public opinion, but it was not until 1906 that the Court of Cassation found him not guilty and reinstated him in the army.
- ↑ Lenin refers to the Texte integral des propositions accepiies par Lénine published in l'Humanité No. 5669 of October 26, 1919
- ↑ Cheka (the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission) was set up on December 7 (20), 1917 by a decision of the Council of People's Commissars for the, purpose of "ruthlessly combating counter-revolution, sabotage and profiteering". As one of the most important levers of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission played an important part in checking counter-revolutionary sabotage and in protecting the security of the Soviet Republic. Appraising the work of this commission, Lenin pointed out in his report to the Ninth All-Russia Congress of Soviets in December 1921, "... this is the institution which has been our effective weapon against the innumerable conspiracies, against the innumerable attacks on Soviet power". In its resolution on the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission the Ninth Congress noted the commission's heroic work in protecting the gains of the October Revolution and, in view of the consolidation of Soviet power, proposed curtailing the commission's activity. This resolution reflected proposals made by Lenin in a draft decision of the Political Bureau of the CC of the RCP(b) on the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission, which he wrote on December 1, 1921 (see Lenin Miscellany XXXVI, p. 369). On February 6, 1922, the All-Russia CEC passed a decree abolishing the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission.
- ↑ Lenin refers to the counter-revolutionary conspiracy exposed in Petrograd in November 1919. The conspiracy was organised by a counter-revolutionary organisation linked, up with Yudenich and subsidised by the Entente. Among its members were tsarist high officials, generals and admirals of the tsarist army and navy, Cadets, and people associated with the S .R .s and Mensheviks. They aimed at timing their revolt to Yudenich's offensive on Petrograd and setting up a white-guard government.
- ↑ The organisation section was set up at the Seventh All-Russia Con-gress of Soviets to examine the innovations in the practical work of building up the Soviet state that took place after the adoption of the Constitution of the RSFSR by the Fifth Congress of Soviets in June 1918. Lenin took part in the debate on the report on Soviet develop-ment in the organisation section. The resolution of the section was endorsed at the closing plenary session of the Congress.