Speeches on Gramophone Records

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1. In Memory Of Comrade Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov, Chairman Of The All-Russia Central Executive Committee[edit source]

All those who have worked day after day with Comrade Sverdlov, now realise full well that it was his exceptional organising talent which ensured for us that of which we have been so proud, and justly proud. He made it possible for us to carry on united, efficient, organised activities worthy of the organised proletarian masses, without which we could not have achieved success, and which answered fully the requirements of the proletarian revolution. The memory of Comrade Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov will serve not only as a symbol of the revolutionary's devotion to his cause, not only as the model of how to combine a practical, sober mind, practical ability, the closest contact with the masses and ability to guide them, but also a pledge that ever-growing masses of proletarians will march forward to the complete victory of the communist revolution.

2. The Third, Communist International[edit source]

In March of this year of 1919, an international congress of Communists was held in Moscow. This congress founded the Third, Communist International, an association of the workers of the whole world who are striving to establish Soviet power in all countries.

The First International, founded by Marx, existed from 1864 to 1872. The defeat of the heroic workers of Paris-of the celebrated Paris Commune-marked the end of this International. It is unforgettable, it will remain for ever in the history of the workers' struggle for their emancipation. It laid the foundation of that edifice of the world socialist republic which it is now our good fortune to be building.

The Second International existed from 1889 to 1914, up to the war. This was the period of the most calm and peaceful development of capitalism, a period without great revolutions. During this period the working-class movement gained strength and matured in a number of countries. But the workers' leaders in most of the parties had become accustomed to peaceful conditions and had lost the ability to wage a revolutionary struggle. When, in 1914, there began the war, that drenched the earth with blood for four years, the war between the capitalists over the division of profits, the war for supremacy over small and weak nations, these leaders deserted to the side of their respective governments. They betrayed the workers, they helped to prolong the slaughter, they became enemies of socialism, they went over to the side of the capitalists.

The masses of workers turned their backs on these traitors to socialism. All over the world there was a turn towards the revolutionary struggle. The war proved that capitalism was doomed. A new system is coming to take its place. The old word socialism had been desecrated by the traitors to socialism.

Today, the workers who have remained loyal to the cause of throwing off the yoke of capital call themselves Communists. All over the world the association of Communists is growing. In a number of countries Soviet power has already triumphed. Soon we shall see the victory of communism throughout the world; we shall see the foundation of the World Federative Republic of Soviets.

3. Communication On The Wireless Negotiations With BĂ©la Kun[edit source]

I knew Comrade BĂ©la Kun very well when he was still a prisoner of war in Russia; and he visited me many times to discuss communism and the communist revolution. Therefore, when news of the Hungarian communist revolution was received, and in a communication signed by Comrade BĂ©la Kun at that, we wanted to speak to him and ascertain exactly how the revolution stood. The first communication we received about it gave us some grounds for fearing that, perhaps, the so-called socialists, traitor-socialists, had resorted to some deception, had got round the Communists, the more so that the latter were in prison. And so, the day after the first communication about the Hungarian revolution was received, I sent a wireless message to Budapest, asking BĂ©la Kun to come to the apparatus, and I put a number of questions to him of such a nature as to enable me to make sure that it was really he who was speaking. I asked him what real guarantees there were for the character of the government and for its actual policy. Comrade BĂ©la Kun’s reply was quite satisfactory and dispelled all our doubts. It appears that the Left Socialists had visited BĂ©la Kun in prison to consult him about forming a government. And it was only these Left Socialists, who sympathised with the Communists, and also people from the Centre who formed the new government, while the Right Socialists, the traitorsocialists, the irreconcilables and incorrigibles, so to speak, left the Party, and not a single worker followed them. Later communications showed that the policy of the Hungarian Government was most firm and so Communist in trend “that while we began with workers” control of industry and only gradually began to socialise industry, BĂ©la Kun, with his prestige, his conviction that he was backed by vast masses, could at once pass a law which converted all the industrial undertakings in Hungary that were run on capitalist lines into public property. Two days later we became fully convinced that the Hungarian revolution had at once, with extraordinary rapidity, taken the communist road. The bourgeoisie voluntarily surrendered power to the Communists of Hungary. The bourgeoisie demonstrated to the whole world that when a grave crisis supervenes, when the nation is in danger, the bourgeoisie is unable to govern. And there is only one government that is really a popular government, a government that is really beloved of the people-the government of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.

Long live Soviet power in Hungary!

4. An Appeal to the Red Army[edit source]

Comrades, Red Army men! The capitalists of Britain, America and France are waging war against Russia. They are taking revenge on the Soviet workers’ and peasants’ republic for having overthrown the power of the landowners and capitalists and thereby set an example to all the nations of the globe. The capitalists of Britain, France and America are helping with money and munitions the Russian landowners who are bringing troops from Siberia, the Don and North Caucasus against Soviet power for the purpose of restoring the rule of the tsar and the power of the landowners and capitalists. But this will not happen. The Red Army has closed its ranks, has risen up and driven the landowners’ troops and whiteguard officers from the Volga, has recaptured Riga and almost the whole of the Ukraine, and is marching towards Odessa and Rostov. A little more effort, a few more months of fighting the enemy, and victory will be ours. The Red Army is strong because it is consciously and unitedly marching into battle for the peasants’ land, for the rule of the workers and peasants, for Soviet power.

The Red Army is invincible because it has united millions of working peasants with the workers who have now learned to fight, have acquired comradely discipline, who do not lose heart, who become steeled after slight reverses, and are more and more boldly marching against the enemy, convinced he will soon be defeated.

Comrades, Red Army men! The alliance of the workers and peasants of the Red Army is firm, close and insoluble. The kulaks, the very rich peasants, are trying to foment revolts against Soviet power, but they constitute an insignificant minority. They rarely succeed in fooling the peasants, and then not for long. The peasants know that only in alliance with the workers can they vanquish the landowners. Sometimes, in the rural districts people call themselves Communists who are actually the worst enemies of the working people, bullies who hang on to the authorities in pursuit of their own selfish aims, and who resort to deception, commit acts of injustice and wrong the middle peasant. The workers’ and peasants’ government has firmly decided to fight against these people and clear them out of the countryside. The middle peasants are not enemies but friends of the workers, friends of Soviet power. The class-conscious workers and genuine Soviet people treat the middle peasants as comrades. The middle peasants do not exploit the labour of others, they do not grow rich at other people’s expense, as the kulaks do; the middle peasants work themselves, they live by their own labour. The Soviet government will crush the kulaks, will comb out of the villages those who treat the middle peasants unjustly and, come what may, will pursue the policy of alliance between the workers and all the working peasants-both poor and middle peasants.

This alliance is growing all over the world. The revolution is drawing nigh, it is everywhere maturing. A few days ago it was victorious in Hungary. In Hungary, Soviet power, workers’ government, has been established. This is what all nations will inevitably do.

Comrades, Red Army men! Be staunch, firm and united. March boldly forward against the enemy. Victory will be ours. The power of the landowners and the capitalists, broken in Russia, will be defeated throughout the world.

March 29

5. The Middle Peasants[edit source]

The most important question now confronting the Communist Party, the question on which most attention was concentrated at the last Party Congress, is that of the middle peasants.

Naturally, the first question usually asked is, what is a middle peasant?

Naturally, Party comrades have often related how they have been asked this question in the villages. The middle peasant, we say in reply, is a peasant who does not exploit the labour of others, who does not live on the labour of others, who does not take the fruits of other people's labour in any shape or form, but works himself, and lives by his own labour.

Under capitalism there were fewer peasants of this typo than there are now, because the majority of the peasants were in the ranks of the impoverished, and only an insignificant minority, then, as now, were in the ranks of the kulaks, the exploiters, the rich peasants.

The middle peasants have been increasing in number since the private ownership of land was abolished, and the Soviet government has firmly resolved at all costs to etablish relations of complete peace and harmony with them. It goes without saying that the middle peasant cannot immediately accept socialism, because he clings firmly to what he is accustomed to, he is cautious about all innovations, subjects what he is offered to a factual, practical test and does not decide to change his way of life until he is convinced that the change is necessary.

It is precisely for this reason that we must know, remember and put into practice the rule that when Communist workers go into rural districts they must try to establish comradely relations with the middle peasants, it is their duty to establish these comradely relations with them; they must remember that working peasants who do not exploit the labour of others are the comrades of the urban workers and that we can and must establish with them a voluntary alliance inspired by sincerity and confidence. Every measure proposed by the communist government must be regarded merely as advice, as a suggestion to the middle peasants, as an invitation to them to accept the new order.

Only by co-operation in the work of testing these measures in practice, finding out in what way they are mistaken, eliminating possible errors and achieving agreement with the middle peasant-only by such co-operation can the alliance between the workers and the peasants be ensured. This alliance is the main strength and the bulwark of Soviet power; this alliance is a pledge that socialist transformation will be successful, victory over capital will be achieved and exploitation in all its forms will be abolished.

6. What Is Soviet Power?[edit source]

What is Soviet power? What is the essence of this new power, which people in most countries still will not, or cannot, understand? The nature of this power, which is attracting larger and larger numbers of workers in every country, is the following: in the past the country was, in one way or another, governed by the rich, or by the capitalists, but now, for the first time, the country is being governed by the classes, and moreover, by the masses of those classes, which capitalism formerly oppressed. Even in the most democratic and freest republics, as long as capital rules and the land remains private property, the government will always be in the hands of a small minority, nine-tenths of which consist of capitalists, or rich men.

In this country, in Russia, for the first time in the world history, the government of the country is so organised that only the workers and the working peasants, to the exclusion of the exploiters, constitute those mass organisations known as Soviets, and these Soviets wield all state power. That is why, in spite of the slander that the representatives of the bourgeoisie in all countries spread about Russia, the word "Soviet" has now become not only intelligible but popular all over the world, has become the favourite word of the workers, and of all working people. And that is why, notwithstanding all the persecution to which the adherents of communism in the different countries are subjected, Soviet power must necessarily, inevitably, and in the not distant future, triumph all over the world.

We know very well that there are still many defects in the organisation of Soviet power in this country. Soviet power is not a miracle-working talisman. It does not, overnight, heal all the evils of the past- illiteracy, lack of culture, the consequences of a barbarous war, the aftermath of predatory capitalism. But it does pave the way to socialism. It gives those who were formerly oppressed the chance to straighten their backs and to an ever-increasing degree to take the whole government of the country, the whole administration of the economy, the whole management of production, into their own hands.

Soviet power is the road to socialism that was discovered by the masses of the working people, and that is why it is the true road, that is why it is invincible.

7. How The Working People Can Be Saved From The Oppression Of The Landowners And Capitalists For Ever[edit source]

The enemies of the working people, the landowners and capitalists say that the workers and peasants cannot live without them. "If it were not for us," they say, "there would be nobody to maintain order, to give out work, and to compel people to work. If it were not for us everything would collapse, and the state would fall to pieces. We have been driven away, but chaos will bring us back again." But this sort of talk by the landowners and capitalists will not confuse, intimidate, or deceive the workers and peasants. An army needs the strictest discipline; nevertheless the class-conscious workers succeeded in uniting the peasants, succeeded in taking the old tsarist officers into their service, succeeded in building a victorious army.

The Red Army established unprecedentedly firm discipline-not by means of the lash, but based on the intelligence, loyalty and devotion of the workers and peasants themselves.

And so, to save the working people from the yoke of the landowners and capitalists for ever, to save them from the restoration of their power, it is necessary to build up a great Red Army of Labour. That army will be invincible if it is cemented by labour discipline. The workers and peasants must and will prove that they can properly distribute labour, establish devoted discipline and ensure loyalty in working for the common good, and can do it themselves, without the landowners and in spite of them, without the capitalists and in spite of them.

Labour discipline, enthusiasm for work, readiness for self-sacrifice, close alliance between the peasants and the workers-this is what will save the working people from the oppression of the landowners and capitalists for ever.

8. Anti-Jewish Pogroms[edit source]

Anti-Semitism means spreading enmity towards the Jews. When the accursed tsarist monarchy was living its last days it tried to incite ignorant workers and peasants against the Jews. The tsarist police, in alliance with the landowners and the capitalists, organised pogroms against the Jews. The landowners and capitalists tried to divert the hatred of the workers and peasants who were tortured by want against the Jews. In other countries, too, we often see the capitalists fomenting hatred against the Jews in order to blind the workers, to divert their attention from the real enemy of the working people, capital. Hatred towards the Jews persists only in those countries where slavery to the landowners and capitalists has created abysmal ignorance among the workers and peasants. Only the most ignorant and downtrodden people can believe the lies and slander that are spread about the Jews. This is a survival of ancient feudal times, when the priests burned heretics at the stake, when the peasants lived in slavery, and when the people were crushed and inarticulate. This ancient, feudal ignorance is passing away; the eyes of the people are being opened.

It is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people. The enemies of the workers are the capitalists of all countries. Among the Jews there are working people, and they form the majority. They are our brothers, who, like us, are oppressed by capital; they are our comrades in the struggle for socialism. Among the Jews there are kulaks, exploiters and capitalists, just as there are among the Russians, and among people of all nations. The capitalists strive to sow and foment hatred between workers of different faiths, different nations and different races. Those who do not work are kept in power by the power and strength of capital. Rich Jews, like rich Russians, and the rich in all countries, are in alliance to oppress, crush, rob and disunite the workers.

Shame on accursed tsarism which tortured and persecuted the Jews. Shame on those who foment hatred towards the Jews, who foment hatred towards other nations.

Long live the fraternal trust and fighting alliance of the workers of all nations in the struggle to overthrow capital.