The “Crisis of Power”

Published in Pravda No. 46, May 15 (2), 1917.

The whole of Russia remembers the days of April 19–21, when civil war was about to break out in the streets of Petrograd.

On April 21 the Provisional Government penned a new reassuring missive purporting to “explain” its predatory Note of the 18th.

After this the majority of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies decided to consider the “incident settled”.

Another couple of days passed, and the question of a coalition cabinet cropped up. The Executive Committee was almost equally divided: 23 against a coalition cabinet, 22 for it. The incident had been “settled” only on paper.

Two more days passed, and we now have another “incident”. War Minister Guchkov, one of the leaders of the Provisional Government, has resigned. There is talk of the whole Provisional Government having decided to resign. (At the time of writing, we still do not know for certain whether the government has resigned.) A new “incident” has occurred one that throws all previous “incidents” into the shade.

Whence this spate of “incidents”? Is there no root cause which inevitably engenders “incident” upon “incident”?

There is such a cause. It is what we know as the dual power, that state of unstable equilibrium resulting from the agreement between the Soviet and the Provisional Government.

The Provisional Government is a government of the capitalists. It cannot give up its dreams of conquests (annexations), it cannot end the predatory war by a democratic peace, it cannot but protect the profits of its own class (the capitalist class), it cannot but protect the estates of the land owners.

The Soviet represents other classes. Most of the workers and soldiers in the Soviet do not want this predatory war, they are not interested in the profits of the capitalists or in preserving the privileges of the landowners. At the same time, however, they still have faith in the Provisional Government of the capitalists, they are for having agreements with it, for keeping in contact with it.

The Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies are them selves a government in embryo. On some questions they attempt to exercise power parallel with the Provisional Government. We thus have an overlapping of power, or, as it is now called, a “crisis of power”.

This cannot go on for long. Such a state of affairs is bound every day to cause new “incidents” and fresh complications. It is easy enough to inscribe on a bit of paper “the incident is settled”. In real life, however, these incidents do not disappear. And this for the simple reason that they are not “incidents” at all, they are not chance happenings, not trifles. They are the outward signs of a deep-rooted inner crisis. They are a result of the impasse in which humanity now finds itself. There can be no way out of this predatory war unless we accept the measures proposed by the internationalist socialists.

The Russian people are offered three ways of ending this “crisis of power”. Some say: Leave things as they are, put still greater trust in the Provisional Government. The threat to resign may be a trick calculated to make the Soviet say: We trust you still more. The Provisional Government wants the Soviet to beg it: Come and rule over us; what shall we do without you....

Others propose a coalition cabinet. Let us share the ministerial portfolios with Milyukov and Co., they say, let us get some of our own people into the cabinet; it will be quite another pair of shoes then.

We propose a third way: A complete change of the Soviets’ policy, no confidence in the capitalists, and the transfer of all power to the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. A change of personalities will give nothing; the whole policy must be changed. Another class must assume power. A government of workers and soldiers would be trusted by the whole world, for everyone knows that a worker and a poor peasant would want to rob no one. Only this can put a speedy end to the war, only this can help us through the economic debacle.

All power to the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies! No confidence in the government the capitalists!

Every “incident”, every day, every hour will confirm the soundness of this watchword.

Source: Marxist Internet Archive