The Extraordinary All-Russia Congress Of Soviets Of Peasants' Deputies



Concluding Speech On The Agrarian Question

November 18 (December 1)

Newspaper Report

Comrade Lenin first showed that the accusation of anarchism made against the Bolsheviks by the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries had not been proved.

In what way did socialists differ from anarchists? The anarchists did not recognise state power whereas the socialists, the Bolsheviks among them, did recognise it in the period of transition between the state of affairs then obtaining and the socialism towards which they were progressing.

The Bolsheviks favoured a strong authority, but it must be a workers' and peasants' authority.

All state power is compulsion, but until then it had always been the power of the minority, the power of the landowner and capitalist employed against the worker and peasant.

He said that the Bolsheviks stood for the state power that would be a firm authority of the majority of the workers and peasants employed against the capitalists and landowners.

Comrade Lenin then went on to show that the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries' resolution on the land had called the new government a people's socialist government, and dwelt on the points that could closely unite the Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries.

The alliance of the peasants and workers was a basis for an agreement between the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviks.

It was an honest coalition, an honest alliance, but it would be an honest coalition at the summit too, between the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviks, if the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries were more definite in stating their conviction that the revolution was a socialist revolution. It was a socialist revolution. The abolition of private property in land, the introduction of workers' control, the nationalisation of the banks—all these were measures that would lead to socialism. They were not socialism, but they were measures that would lead to socialism by gigantic strides. The Bolsheviks did not promise the workers and peasants milk and honey immediately, but they did say that a close alliance between the workers and the exploited peasantry, a firm, unwavering struggle for the power of the Soviets would lead to socialism, and any party that really wanted to be a people's party would have to state clearly and decisively that the revolution was a socialist revolution.

And only in the event of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries stating that clearly and unambiguously would the Bolsheviks' alliance with them grow and become stronger.

It had been said that the Bolsheviks were against the socialisation of the land and could not, therefore, come to an agreement with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries.

The Bolsheviks answered that they were indeed against the Socialist-Revolutionaries' socialisation of the land but that did not prevent an honest alliance with them.

Today or tomorrow the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries would nominate their Minister of Agriculture, and the Bolsheviks would not vote against a law on the socialisation of the land if he proposed it; they would abstain from voting.

In conclusion Comrade Lenin stressed that only an alliance of workers and peasants could acquire land and make peace.

Among other things Comrade Lenin was asked what the Bolsheviks would do in the Constituent Assembly if the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries were there in a minority and proposed a bill on the socialisation of the land—would the Bolsheviks abstain from voting? Of course not. The Bolsheviks would vote for the bill but would make the proviso that they were voting for it in order to support the peasants against their enemies.

Published in Pravda No. 195
4 December 1917
Published according to the Pravda text


[1] Written in connect ion with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries' objections to the Bolshevik demand that Lenin should be invited to speak at the Congress in his capacity of Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars. They thought this would be prejudicial to the issue of power. On their motion, the Congress rejected the Bolshevik proposal, and Lenin addressed it as a member of the Bolshevik group.

[2] The reference is to the instruction to the volost land committees approved by tire First All-Russia Congiess of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies on June 23 (July 6), 1917, and published as a law "On the volost Committees" on November 3 (16), 1917.

[3] The reference is to the start of the peace talks with Germany. Following the publication of the Decree on Peace, adopted by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, the Soviet Government took practical steps to conclude a general democratic peace among the belligerents. On November 7 (20), 1917, it issued special directions to General Dukhonin, the Commander-in-Chief, ordering him to make an offer to the enemy command to stop military operations and open peace talks. The directions said the government deemed it necessary to make a formal proposal for an armistice between the belligerents without delay (Izvestia No. 221, November 10, 1917). But the counter-revolutionary top brass, who had contacts with the military in missions of the Entente, blocked the armistice in every possible way. On November 8 (21), the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs sent a note to the Allied ambassadors proposing an immediate cease-fire on all fronts and negotiations on peace. The Entente ambassadors met at the U.S. Embassy in Petrograd on November 9 (22) arid decided to ignore the Soviet government's note.

The refusal of the Entente imperialists to support the Soviet Government's peace initiative and their active resistance to the conclusion of a peace, forced the Council of People's Commissars to start separate peace talks with Germany. On November 14 (27), word was received that the German High Command was prepared to start armistice talks. On the Soviet Government's proposal the talks postponed for five days to give the Allied Government another chance to make known their attitude on the peace proposal. On November 15 (28), the Soviet Government issued its appeal to the governments and peoples of all the belligerent countries urging them to join in the peace negotiations. There was no reply from the Allied powers.

On November 19 (December 2), a Soviet peace delegation led by A. A. Joffe arrived in the neutral zone and proceeded to Best-Litovsk, where it met a delegation of the Austin-Hungarian bloc which included representatives of Bulgaria amid Turkey. A 10-day cease-fire was arranged as a result of the talks of November 20-22 (December 3-5). The Soviet Government took the opportunity to try to turn the separate talks with Germany into negotiations for a general democratic peace. On November 24 (December 7) it sent another note to the Entente ambassadors inviting them to join in the talks. This note was also ignored. On December 2 (15), the talks were resumed and that same day a 28-day cease-fire was agreed upon. It provided for a peace conference, which opened at Brest-Litovsk on December 9 (22).


Source: Marxist Internet Archive.