The Tasks of the Proletariat in Our Revolution (Draft Platform for the Proletarian Party)


My pamphlet has become out of date owing to the general economic disorganisation and the inefficiency of the St. Petersburg presses. The pamphlet was written on April 10, 1917, today is May 28, and it has not come out yet!

It was written as a draft platform to propagandise my views before the All-Russia Conference of our Party, the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party of Bolsheviks. The pamphlet was typed in several copies and handed out to Party members before and during the Conference so that it did its job in part. But the Conference took place from April 24 to April 29,1917, its resolutions have long since been published (see supplement to Soldatskaya Pravda No. 13) and the attentive reader will have noticed that my pamphlet often served as the original draft of those resolutions.

It is left for me to express the hope that the pamphlet will still be of some value because of its connection with those resolutions and because it explains them, and to deal here with two points.

I suggested on page 27 that we remain in Zimmerwald only for purposes of information. The Conference did not agree with me on this point, and I had to vote against the resolution on the International. It is now becoming obvious that the Conference made a mistake and that the course taken by events will soon correct it. By remaining in Zimmerwald we (even against our will) are helping delay the creation of the Third International; we are indirectly hampering its foundation, being burdened with the dead ballast of the ideologically and politically dead Zimmerwald.

In the eyes of the working-class parties of the whole world, our Party’s position is now such that it is our duty to found a Third International without delay. Today there is nobody but us to do it, and procrastination can only do harm. If we remain in Zimmerwald for information only, we shall have our hands freed to establish the new International (and at the same time be able to use Zimmerwald should circumstances make it possible).

Because of the mistake made by the Conference, we must now wait passively, at least until July 5, 1917 (the date set for the Zimmerwald Conference, provided it is not postponed again! It has already been postponed once. . .).

The decision unanimously adopted by the Central Committee of our Party after the Conference and published in Pravda No. 55, on May 12, has, however, gone half-way towards correcting the mistake; it has been resolved that we shall walk out of Zimmerwald if they decide to confer with ministers. I express the hope that the other half of the mistake will be speedily remedied, as soon as we convene the first international conference of Lefts (the “third trend”, the “internationalists in deed”, see above, pp. 23–25 ).

The second point I must deal with is the formation of the “coalition cabinet” on May 6, 1917. On this point the pamphlet may seem to be particularly out of date.

But actually on this of all points it is not out of date at all. It is based wholly on the class analysis, a thing that the Mensheviks and Narodniks, who have provided six ministers as hostages to the ten capitalist ministers, stand in deadly fear of. And it is because the pamphlet is based wholly on a class analysis that it is not out of date—the only change made by Tsereteli, Chernov and Co . joining the cabinet was an insignificant one in the form of the agreement between the Petrograd Soviet and the capitalist government, and I deliberately stressed in my pamphlet (on page 8) that “I am referring not so much to the formal agreement as to actual support”

With each passing day it is becoming clearer that Tsereteli, Chernov and Co. are nothing more than hostages to the capitalists, that the “renewed” government is neither willing nor able to carry out any of its abundant promises either in foreign or domestic policies. Chernov, Tsereteli and Co. have committed political suicide by turning into assistants of the capitalists, into people who are actually strangling the revolution; Kerensky has come so low as to use force against the masses (cf.p. 9 of the pamphlet: “Guchkov is still only threatening to employ violence against the mass” but Kerensky had to carry out those threats[8]). Chernov, Tsereteli and Co. have killed themselves and their parties—the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries—politically. The people will realise this more and more clearly as the days go by.

The coalition cabinet is only a passing moment in the development of the fundamental class contradictions of our revolution briefly analysed in the pamphlet. This situation cannot last long—we must either go backward to counter-revolution all along the line or forward to the transfer of state power to other classes. At a time of revolution, when the imperialist world war is in progress, we cannot stand still.

N. Lenin

St. Petersburg, May 28, 1917


[8] Lenin is referring to the order by War Minister Kerensky published on May 11 (24), 1917, containing a “Declaration of the Rights of the Soldier”, in which there was a point allowing a superior officer to use military force in cases of insubordination in the field. This point was aimed against soldiers and officers who refused to go into the attack. Simultaneously with the promulgation of this order Kerensky started to disband regiments and prosecute officers and soldiers guilty of ’inciting to insubordination’.


Source: Marxist Internet Archive