Pravda, No. 35, May 1 (April 18), 1917. Signed: N. Lenin.
The newspapers for April 16 carried the following resolution:
“Having discussed comrades’ reports concerning the spread of disruptive propaganda carried on under a revolutionary and often even under a Social-Democratic banner, particularly propaganda by those who call themselves Leninists; regarding such propaganda to be no less harmful than any other counter-revolutionary propaganda from the right; and realising at the same time that it is impossible to take repressive measures against propaganda so long as it remains merely propaganda, the Executive Commission of the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies considers It essential that measures should be taken to counteract this propaganda by our own propaganda and agitation. We must make our organisations strong enough to be able at any moment to meet a counter-revolutionary action, no matter where it comes from, by effective actions of our own. We express our earnest wish that the Executive Committee launch a systematic campaign in the press, and especially in the army units, against the disruptive propaganda.”
If we compare this resolution with the statement made in Izvestia’s leading article (for April 17) against the “dishonourable and outrageous persecution”, we see at once the political division on the subject which has made itself manifest in practice, namely: Russkaya Volya, the chief hounding agency; Mr. Plekhanov’s Yedinstvo, which repeats “such a method of struggle”; both recognised as such by Dyelo Naroda.
A different stand is taken by the Executive Commission of the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies, which simply declares that “it is impossible to take repressive measures against propaganda so long as it remains merely propaganda”.
That is why we reprint the resolution of the Executive Commission in full and consider it useful to examine it on its merits.
The resolution declares Lenin’s propaganda to be “no less harmful than any other counter-revolutionary propaganda from the right”.
Let us examine the gist of the differences between (1) counter-revolutionary propaganda from the right, (2) the propaganda for and in support of the Provisional Government, and (3) our own propaganda.
The Rights are out for the overthrow of the Provisional Government and the restoration of the monarchy.
The Provisional Government has promised to act in agreement with the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
Our propaganda is: all power in the state to be turned over to the Soviets alone, because the Soviets unquestionably represent the overwhelming majority of the nation. To achieve this, we want by “explanation” (as Lenin distinctly stated in his theses the very first day) to make the majority of the nation see the necessity for such a transfer of power.
The Rights, then, are for a monarchic government. The capitalists are for a capitalist government (for that is what the Provisional Government is); they promise to act in agreement with the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
We want to convince the majority of the people that power must residesolely in the Soviets.
It is perfectly obvious that even from the point of view of those who advocate an agreement with the Provisional Government, our propaganda cannot be regarded as “no less harmful than any other counter-revolutionary propaganda from the right”. The advocates of an agreement now have the backing of the majority of the people! How then can they maintain that our propaganda urging the majority to take overall the power is “no less harmful than propaganda from the right”?
This is a glaring inconsistency.
The Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies can hardly uphold this view of its Executive Commission for long.
What essentially are our differences?
We differ mainly on three points:
1. On the question of the land. We are for the peasants taking all the land immediately by a decision of their own majority in each locality, thus increasing production of grain and meat for the soldiers.
The Provisional Government is for an “agreement” between the peasants and the landowners, i.e., an “agreement” between three hundred peasants and one landowner.
The future will show whether the majority of the people are with us or with the Provisional Government on this question.
2. We are for a republic where, from the bottom up, there will be no police, no standing army (instead of a standing army, we believe, there should be a universal arming of the whole people), no bureaucracy, who, in effect, are undisplaceable and privileged by high bourgeois, salaries. We want all public officers to be elective and displaceable at any time, and their pay to be on a proletarian scale.
The Provisional Government is for restoring the police of the usual type; it is for a standing army, for the usual kind of officials.
3. The Provisional Government is for continuing the war and the kind of war which Nicholas the Bloody started. The Provisional Government is for confirming the secret, predatory treaties concluded by him without consulting the will of the people and even without making them public.
We are against such a war, we are against the confirmation of the treaties, against their non-publication.
We urge all nations, without exception, to put an end to the war by concluding, not a coercive, but a truly democratic peace, that would give freedom to all nations and nationalities. We want to show the people that in order to end the war by a truly non-coercive peace it is necessary that the state power be placed wholly and exclusively in the hands of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
For so long as the capitalists and landowners (Guchkov, Lvov, Milyukov) are in power, the war will remain a capitalist-directed one, all promises of peace without annexations will remain mere promises, and distrust of the capitalists’ government on the part of the world’s working masses will continue; and that means the war will drag on.
Question: What if the state power in Russia passed to the Soviets but Germany failed to effect a revolution that would rid it of both Wilhelm II and the German Guchkovs and Milyukovs(for if the German Nicholas II were replaced by the German Guchkovs and Milyukovs, there would be no change whatever as far as the war is concerned)?
Our answer is: Power in the hands of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies would be the power of the majority of the people, and that majority consists of workers and poor peasants. They are really not interested in annexations, they will renounce them not in word, but in deed; they will really stop being watchdogs of the capitalists’ profits.
Under such conditions we too would agree to a revolutionary war against the capitalists of any country, because that would really be a war against the interests of Capital in general, and not a war in the interest of the capitalists of one particular country.
Question: How can we advance the cause of peace right now, immediately and practically, if it is impossible to end the war by simply sticking the bayonets into the ground?
Our answer is: The war cannot be terminated by the simple expedient of sticking the bayonets into the ground, or generally by the unilateral withdrawal of any of the warring nations. There is, and can be, only one practical and immediate way of hastening peace (apart from the victory of the workers’ revolution over the capitalists), and that is the fraternisation of the soldiers at the front.
We must immediately, in the most energetic manner, and by all the means at our disposal encourage fraternisation of the soldiers of both warring groups at the front.
This fraternisation has already begun. Let us help it along.
These are our views. We are firmly convinced that the majority of the people will not say that they are “no less harmful than any other counter-revolutionary propaganda from the right”.
Source: Marxist Internet Archive