Speech Delivered At A Public Meeting In The Sokolniki Club
|Written||20 June 1918|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972, Volume 27, pages 450-453
June 21, 1918
Brief Newspaper Report
Our Party has decided to hold as many public meetings today in Moscow as possible with the object of drawing the attention of the working class to the situation in which the Soviet government is placed and to the efforts it will have to make in order to cope successfully with the present situation.
You know that in these past few months, and even weeks, counter-revolution has raised its head. The Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks are accusing the Soviet government of betraying Russia to the German imperialists.
However, we are perfectly aware of what has been taking place in the Caucasus, where the Caucasian Mensheviks have concluded an alliance with the Turkish imperialists, and in the Ukraine, where the Ukrainian Right Socialist-Revolutionaries have concluded an alliance with the German imperialists. And what is more, comrades, not only have they reduced all the achievements of Soviet power to naught in these regions, not only are they arresting and shooting workers, not only have they deprived them of all their gains, but they have even set a Skoropadsky in the saddle. These measures, of course, will not win them the sympathy of the working class. That is why the counter-revolutionaries are now trying to make the most out of the fatigue of the Russian people, out of the famine. They are making a last attempt to overthrow the Soviet government.
Now they are clutching at the Czechoslovaks, who, it should be said, are by no means hostile to the Soviet government. It is not the Czechoslovaks, but their counter-revolutionary officers who are hostile to the Soviet government. With the help of these officers, the imperialists are trying to drag Russia into the world slaughter which is still going on.
And it is a characteristic thing that wherever the power passes into the hands of the Mensheviks and the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, we at once find that they want to bestow upon us some Skoropadsky or other. And as soon as the masses realise where the Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries have led them, the latter are left without the support of the masses.
They are left without support. Then, as a last hope, they begin to speculate on famine, and when that too fails, they do not shrink even from treacherous assassination.
You all know that Comrade Volodarsky, an old Party worker, who paid for his convictions by suffering and hardships, has been assassinated. It is quite possible of course that they may succeed in assassinating a few more active members of the Soviet government, but that will only serve to anchor it in the affections of the masses and rouse us to hold on even more firmly to our gains.
Today there are two factors which render the position of the Soviet Republic particularly grave: famine and the international situation.
The international situation is grave because the German, French and British imperialists are only waiting for an opportune moment to fling themselves once more on the Soviet Republic. The task of our Party is to throw off the yoke of capitalism; this can only be done by an international revolution. But, comrades, you must realise that revolutions are not made to order. We realise that the position of the Russian Republic is that the Russian working class has been the first to succeed in throwing off the yoke of capital and the bourgeoisie, and we realise that it has succeeded in this, not because it is more advanced and perfect tlian others, but because our country is a most backward one.
Capitalism will be finally overthrown when at least a few other countries join in this assault. And we know that in all countries, in spite of a most rigorous censorship, we have succeeded in this much, that at all meetings the mere mention of the Communist Party and of the Russian Republic evokes an outburst of enthusiasm. (Loud applause.)
And we say that as long as the world carnage continues over there in the West, we are secure. Whatever the consequences of the war may be, it is bound to call forth revolution, which will be, and is, our ally.
After describing the grave position of Soviet Russia, surrounded as it is by enemies without and attacked by counter-revolution at home, Lenin passed to the subject of the famine.
Our revolution strikes terror into the imperialist classes, for they are clearly aware that their existence depends on whether their capitalism manages to hold on or not, and we must therefore stand fast and march shoulder to shoulder with the class with which we won the October Revolution.
It is with this same class that we are marching in the fight against the famine.
From now on, for one, one and a half or two months—the most difficult of all—we must exert all our strength and energies.
There have been moments in the lives of nations before now when state power passed into the hands of the working class; but it was never able to retain it. We, however, can retain it, for we have our Soviet government, which unites a working class that has taken its cause into its own hands.
However grave our position may be, whatever plots the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Czechoslovaks may hatch, we know that there is grain available even in the provinces surrounding the capital. And we must secure this grain by preserving and strengthening the alliance between the working class and the poor peasants.
Detachments of Red Army men leave the capital with the best intentions in the world, but, on arriving at their destination, they sometimes succumb to the temptations of looting and drunkenness. For this we have to blame the four years of carnage, which kept men in the trenches for so long and compelled them to slaughter each other like wild beasts. This bestiality is to be observed in all countries. Years will pass before men cease to act like beasts and resume human shape.
We appeal to the workers to let us have men.
When I read a report to the effect that in Usman Uyezd, Tambov Gubernia, a food detachment turned over to the poor peasants 3,000 of the 6,000 poods of grain it had requisitioned, I declare that even if you were to prove to me that to this day there has been only one such detachment in Russia, I should still say that the Soviet government is doing its job."&38217; For in no other country in the world will you find such a detachment! (Loud applause.)
The bourgeoisie is fully conscious of its interests and is doing its utmost to safeguard them. It knows that if this autumn, for the first time in many centuries, the peasants reap the fruits of their owii labour in the shape of the crop, and keep the working class of the towns supplied, all its hopes of restoration will collapse and the Soviet government will be strengthened. That is why the bourgeoisie is now displaying such feverish activity.
We must bend all our efforts to combat the rich peasants, the profiteers and the urban bourgeoisie.
One of the greatest drawbacks of our revolution is the timidity of our workers, who are still convinced that the only people capable of governing the state are their “betters”—their betters in the art of robbery.
But there are fine workers in every mill and factory. No matter if they do not belong to the Party—you must weld them together and unite them, and the state will do everything in its power to help them in their difficult work. (Loud applause.)