Nikolai Bukharin (Russian People’s Commissary)
Soviets or Parliament
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The Soviets or Parliament
THE fundamental difference between the
parliamentary system and the Soviet
power is already known. It is known
that the Soviets grant no political rights
to the non-producing classes. The country is
governed by the councils elected by the
working population in the place where they
work, in the workshops, the mines, and the
villages. The capitalists, the landed proprietors,
middle-class intellectuals, bankers, stockbrokers,
and speculators, merchants and shopkeepers,
priests and monks, in short, all who form the
black army of capitalism, are deprived of the
right to vote and are without political power.
The Constituent Assembly (or Parliament,
the members of which are elected to represent
territorial constituencies) is the basis of the
Parliamentary Republic. The highest sovereignity of the communist republic belongs to the Congress of Soviets.
In what does the one differ from the other?
In the fact that to the Constituent Assembly,
not only are the representatives of the workers
and peasants elected, but also the representatives
of owners, bankers, and capitalists, the representatives of all the capitalist class and their hangers-on.
The Capitalist Dictatorship.
Experience shows that wherever the bourgeoisie enjoys political rights, it uses those rights
to dupe the workers and peasants. Because it
has the press, both the daily newspapers and
the periodicals, in its hands: because it has great
wealth at its disposal, the bourgeoisie is able to
corrupt public officials, to employ for its benefit
the services of hundreds of thousands of agents;
is always able to menace and to intimidate for
its own advantage, its slaves; and, in fact;
to organise things in such a way that not a
scrap of the power shall escape from its clutches.
All the people apparently participate in the
elections, but, under this pretence is hidden the
domination of capitalism, which natters itself
that it has granted the people the right to vote
and all “democratic” privileges, but which
takes good care to preserve its own privileges.
Thus in bourgeois republican countries, under
the cloak of universal suffrage, the power is
found to be entirely in the hands of the great
forces of capitalism.
Under the parliamentary system each citizen
casts his vote into the ballot box once in four or
five years, and the field is then clear for the
members of Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, and
Presidents, to manage everything without any
reference to the toiling masses. Gulled and
exploited by its officials, the toilers have no
part whatever in the administration of the
The Soviet System.
In the Soviet Republic, born of the dictatorship of the workers, the administration rests on an altogether new basis. It is not an organisation of officials independent of the masses and
dependent on the capitalists. The central
government is established on the great class
organisations of the workers and peasants: the
industrial unions, the factory committees, local
workers’ and peasants’ councils, and organisations of soldiers and sailors. From the centre
stretch thousands and millions of conducting
threads which lead to the provincial Soviets,
the municipal Soviets, the local Soviets, and
finally to the factory and workshop Soviets.
Take, for example, the Chief Economic
Soviet (or Council). It is composed of representatives of industrial commissions, factory committees, and similar institutions. On the
one hand, the industrial unions embrace all
industrial activity, they have ramifications in
the various towns and are maintained by the
masses of the organised workers. On the other
hand, there exists to-day in every factory a
committee elected by the workers. The factory
committees group themselves and send their
representatives to the Chief Economic Soviet,
which elaborates plans for economic changes
and the administration of production. In the
same way the central organism of administration
is composed of representative workers, and rests
upon the mass organisations of the working
Thus we have an institution quite different
from the capitalist republic. Not only because
the non-producer is deprived of the right to
vote; not only because the country is administered by the workers and peasants, but above all because the Government of the Soviets is in
constant relations with the organised masses,
and in this way, at all times, the greater part
of the population joins in the administration of
the State. Every organised worker exercises
an influence, not only because, once or twice a
month, he elects to represent him men in whom
he places confidence, but because the industrial
unions can themselves elaborate their own plans
of organisation. These plans are examined by
the Soviets concerned, by the economic Soviets,
and, if approved, they become law as soon as
the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets
has ratified them. An industrial union, or
factory committee can in this way take part in
the common work of building up new forms
The New Status of the Workers.
In the capitalist republic the position of the
State improves as the activities of the masses
are restricted, for the interests of the masses are
in conflict with the capitalist State. The Soviet
Republic, which embodies the dictatorship of
the popular masses, could not subsist for a
single instant without their support. On the
contrary its strength grows as the masses
become more conscious, and as they become
more active in every direction: in the factory
and the workshop, and in every town and
Before the October revolution the organisations of workers and peasants were simply the instruments of the class war against the ruling and possessing capitalists. The organisations
fought capital for higher wages and shorter
working days, and in the villages they fought
for the expropriation of the land. Now that
the power is in the hands of the workers and
peasants, they have become the wheels of the
governmental mechanism. The industrial
unions are not merely fighting capitalism. As
an organic and integral part of the Workers’
Soviet Government they join in the organisation
of production and economic activity. In the
same way, the village and peasant Soviets, not
only wage war upon the village usurers, the
capitalists, and the proprietors of the soil, but,
as organs of government, as wheels in the
mechanism of this giant, the workers and
peasants’ State, they work to elaborate new
The Victory of the Workers.
Thus, little by little, through the organisations
of the workers and peasants, the most extensive
sections of the active population are summoned
to take part in the affairs of State. No other
country offers anything to compare with this,
because no other country has known the victory
of the working class, the dictatorship of the
proletariat, the Republic of the Soviets.
Much had already been written of the dictatorship of the proletariat, but no one knew exactly
in what form it would be realised. The Russian
Revolution shows us the precise form of that
dictatorship. It is the Republic of the Soviets.
This is why the arms of the Soviets are inscribed
on the banners of the best ranks of the international proletariat.