Revision of the Party Programme



From the general or theoretical part of the programme we shall now turn to the minimum programme. Here we at once encounter the ostensibly "very radical" but really very groundless proposal of Comrades N. Bukharin and V. Smirnov to discard the minimum programme in toto. The division into maximum and minimum programmes is out of date, they claim. Since we speak of a transition to socialism there is no need for it. No minimum programmes; our programme must indicate measures for the transition to socialism.

Such is the proposal of these two comrades. For some reason, they have not ventured to offer their own draft (although, since the revision of the Party programme was on the agenda of the next congress of the Party, they were really under an obligation to work out a draft). It is possible that the authors of the ostensibly "radical" proposal have themselves halted in indecision. . . . Be that as it may, their opinion should be examined.

War and economic ruin have forced all countries to advance from monopoly capitalism to state monopoly capitalism. This is the objective state of affairs. In a revolutionary situation, during a revolution, however, state monopoly capitalism is directly transformed into socialism. During a revolution it is impossible to move forward without moving towards socialism—this is the objective state of affairs created by war and revolution. It was taken cognisance of by our April Conference, which put forward the slogans, "a Soviet Republic" (the political form of the dictatorship of the proletariat), and the nationalisation of banks and syndicates (a basic measure in the transition towards socialism). Up to this point all the Bolsheviks unanimously agree. But Comrades Smirnov and Bukharin want to go farther, they want to discard the minimum programme in toto. This is contrary to the wise counsel of the wise proverb, "Do not boast when riding to battle; boast when you return from it".

We are riding to battle, that is, we are fighting for the conquest of political power by our Party. This power would be the dictatorship of the proletariat and the poor peasants. In taking power, we are not at all afraid of stepping beyond the bounds of the bourgeois system; on the contrary, we declare clearly, directly, definitely, and openly that we shall step beyond those bounds, that we shall fearlessly march towards socialism, that our road shall be through a Soviet Republic, through nationalisation of banks and syndicates, through workers' control, through universal labour conscription, through nationalisation of the land, confiscation of the landowners' livestock and implements, etc. In this sense we drafted our programme of measures for transition to socialism.

But we must not boast when riding to battle, we must not discard the minimum programme, for this would be an empty boast: we do not wish to "demand anything from the bourgeoisie", we wish to realise everything ourselves, we do not wish to work on petty details within the framework of bourgeois society.

This would be an empty boast, because first of all we must win power, which has not yet been done. We must first carry out the measures of transition to socialism, we must continue our revolution until the world socialist revolution is victorious, and only then, "returning from battle ", may we discard the minimum programme as of no further use.

Is it possible to guarantee now that the minimum programme will not be needed any more? Of course not, for the simple reason that we have not yet won power, that socialism has not yet been realised, and that we have not achieved even the beginning of the world socialist revolution.

We must firmly, courageously, and without hesitation advance towards our goal, but it is ludicrous to declare that we have reached it when we definitely have not. Discarding the minimum programme would be equivalent to declaring, to announcing (to bragging, in simple language) that we have already won.

No, dear comrades, we have not yet won.

We do not know whether our victory will come tomorrow or a little later. (I personally am inclined to think that it will be tomorrow—I am writing this on October 6, 1917—and that there may be a delay in our seizure of power; still, tomorrow is tomorrow and not today.) We do not know how soon after our victory revolution will sweep the West. We do not know whether or not our victory will be followed by temporary periods of reaction and the victory of the counter-revolution—there is nothing impossible in that—and therefore, after our victory, we shall build a "triple line of trenches" against such a contingency.

We do not know and cannot know anything of this. No one is in a position to know. It is therefore ridiculous to discard the minimum programme, which is indispensable while we still live within the framework of bourgeois society, while we have not yet destroyed that framework, not yet realised the basic prerequisites for a transition to socialism, not yet smashed the enemy (the bourgeoisie), and even if we have smashed them we have not yet annihilated them. All this will come, and perhaps much sooner than many people think (I personally think that it will begin tomorrow), but it has not yet come.

Take the minimum programme in the political sphere. This programme is limited to the bourgeois republic. We add that we do not confine ourselves to its limits, we start immediately upon a struggle for a higher type of republic, a Soviet Republic. This we must do. With unshakable courage and determination we must advance towards the new republic and in this way we shall reach our goal, of that I am sure. But the minimum programme should under no circumstances be discarded, for, first of all, there is as yet no Soviet Republic; secondly, "attempts at restoration" are not out of the question, and they will first have to be experienced and vanquished; thirdly, during the transition from the old to the new there may be temporary "combined types" (as Rabochy Put correctly pointed out a day or two ago)—for instance, a Soviet Republic together with a Constituent Assembly. Let us first get over all that—then it will be time to discard the minimum programme.

The same in the economic sphere. We all agree that the fear of marching towards socialism is the most contemptible treason to the cause of the proletariat. We all agree that the most important of the first steps to be taken must be such measures as the nationalisation of banks and syndicates. Let us first realise this and other similar measures, and then we shall see. Then we shall be able to see better, for practical experience, which is worth a million times more than the best of programmes, will considerably widen our horizon. It is possible, and even probable, nay, indubitable, that without transitional "combined types" the change will not take place. We shall not, for instance, be able to nationalise petty enterprises with one or two hired labourers at short notice or subject them to real workers' control. Their role may be insignificant, they may be bound hand and foot by the nationalisation of banks and trusts, but so long as there are even odds and ends of bourgeois relations, why abandon the minimum programme? As Marxists, advancing boldly to the world's greatest revolution, but at the same time taking a sober view of the facts, we have no right to abandon the minimum programme.

By abandoning it we should prove that we have lost our heads before we have won. And we must not lose our heads either before our victory, at the time of victory, or after it; for if we lose our heads, we lose everything.

Comrade Bukharin actually proposed nothing concrete; he only repeated what had been said long before concerning the nationalisation of banks and syndicates. Comrade Smirnov in his article offered a very interesting and instructive series of tentative reforms that may be reduced to the regulation of production and consumption of commodities. In a general way all this is contained in my draft, followed by an "etc.". To go further, to venture into a discussion of separate and concrete measures, seems to me inexpedient. Many things will become clearer afterthe basic measures of the new type have been carried out, after the nationalisation of banks, after the introduction of workers' control; experience will tell us a lot more, for it will be the experience of millions, the experience in building a new system of economy with the conscious participation of millions. It stands to reason that to indicate the new, develop plans, evaluate them, analyse the local and partial experiences of various Soviets or supply committees, etc., is all very useful work to be done in articles, pamphlets and speeches. But to inject into the programme an overdose of detail is premature and may become even harmful by tying our hands with petty matters. Our hands must be free so that we may build the new with greater vigour, once we have fully entered upon the new path.