* See present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 401-04. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Several Theses". -- DJR]
On the contrary, the Guchkov government has already conducted negotiations for restoration of the monarchy in Russia. Only the arming and organisation of the proletariat can prevent Guchkov and Co. from restoring the monarchy in Russia. Only the revolutionary proletariat of Russia and the whole of Europe, remaining loyal to internationalism, is capable of ridding humanity of the horrors of the imperialist war.
We do not close our eyes to the tremendous difficulties facing the revolutionary-internationalist vanguard of the Russian proletariat. The most abrupt and swift changes are possible in times such as the present. In No. 47 of Sotsial-Democrat we gave a clear and direct answer to that question that naturally arises: What would our Party do, if the revolution immediately placed it in power? Our answer was: (1) We would forthwith offer peace to all the warring nations; (2) we would announce our peace terms -- immediate liberation of all the colonies and all the oppressed and non-sovereign peoples; (3) we would immediately begin and carry out the liberation of all the peoples oppressed by the Great Russians; (4) we do not deceive ourselves for one moment, we know that these terms would be unacceptable not only to the monarchist, but also to the republican bourgeoisie of Germany. and not only to Germany, but also to the capitalist governments of England and France.
We would be forced to wage a revolutionary war against the German -- and not only the German -- bourgeoisie. And we would wage this war. We are not pacifists. We are opposed to imperialist wars over the division of spoils among the capitalists, but we have always considered it absurd for the revolutionary proletariat to disavow revolutionary wars that may prove necessary in the interests of socialism.
The task we outlined in No. 47 of Sotsial-Demokrat is a gigantic one. It can be accomplished only by a long series of great class battles between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. However, it was not our impatience, nor our wishes, but the objective conditions created by the imperialist war that brought the whole of humanity to an impasse, that placed it in a dilemma: either allow the destruction of more millions of lives and utterly ruin European civilisation or hand over power in all the civilised countries to the revo-
lutionary proletariat, carry through the socialist revolution.
To the Russian proletariat has fallen the great honour of beginning the series of revolutions which the imperialist war has made an objective inevitability. But the idea that the Russian proletariat is the chosen revolutionary proletariat among the workers of the world is absolutely alien to us. We know perfectly well that the proletariat of Russia is less organised, less prepared and less class-conscious than the proletariat of other countries. It is not its special qualities, but rather the special conjuncture of historical circumstances that for a certain, perhaps very short, time has made the proletariat of Russia the vanguard of the revolutionary proletariat of the whole world.
Russia is a peasant country, one of the most backward of European countries. Socialism cannot triumph there directly and immediately. But the peasant character of the country, the vast reserve of land in the hands of the nobility, may, to judge from the experience of 1905, give tremendous sweep to the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia and may make our revolution the prologue to the world socialist revolution, a step toward it.
Our Party was formed and developed in the struggle for these ideas, which have been fully confirmed by the experience of 1905 and the spring of 1917, in the uncompromising struggle against all the other parties; and we shall continue to fight for these ideas.
In Russia, socialism cannot triumph directly and immediately. But the peasant mass can bring the inevitable and matured agrarian upheaval to the point of confiscating all the immense holdings of the nobility. This has always been our slogan and it has now again been advanced in St. Petersburg by the Central Committee of our Party and by Pravda, our Party's newspaper. The proletariat will fight for this slogan, without closing its eyes to the inevitability of cruel class conflicts between the agricultural labourers and the poorest peasants closely allied with them, on the one band, and the rich peasants, whose position has been strengthened by Stolypin's agrarian "reform" (1907-14), on the other. The fact should not be overlooked that the 104 peasant deputies in the First (1906) and Second (1907) Dumas
introduced a revolutionary agrarian bill demanding the nationalisation of all lands and their distribution by local committees elected on the basis of complete democracy.
Such a revolution would not, in itself, be socialism. But it would give a great impetus to the world labour movement. It would immensely strengthen the position of the socialist proletariat in Russia and its influence on the agricultural labourers and the poorest peasants. lt would enable the city proletariat to develop, on the strength of this influence, such revolutionary organisations as the Soviets of Workers' Deputies to replace the old instruments of oppression employed by bourgeois states, the army, the police, the bureaucracy; to carry out -- under pressure of the unbearably burdensome imperialist war and its consequences -- a series of revolutionary measures to control the production and distribution of goods.
Single-handed, the Russian proletariat cannot bring the socialist revolution to a victorious conclusion. But it can give the Russian revolution a mighty sweep that would create the most favourable conditions for a socialist revolution, and would, in a sense, start it. It can facilitate the rise of a situation in which its chief, its most trustworthy and most reliable collaborator, the European and American socialist proletariat, could join the decisive battles.
Let the sceptics despair because of the temporary triumph within the European socialist movement of such disgusting lackeys of the imperialist bourgeoisie as the Scheidemanns, Legiens, Davids and Co. in Germany; Sembat, Guesde, Renaudel and Co. in France; the Fabians and the Labourites in England. We are firmly convinced that this filthy froth on the surface of the world labour movement will be soon swept away by the waves of revolution.
In Germany there is already a seething unrest of the proletarian masses, who contributed so much to humanity and socialism by their persistent, unyielding, sustained organisational work during the long decades of European "calm", from 1871 to 1914. The future of German socialism is represented not by the traitors, the Scheidemanns, Legiens, Davids and Co., nor by the vacillating and spineless politicians, Haase, Kautsky and their ilk, who have been enfeebled by the routine of the period of "peace".
The future belongs to the trend that has given us Karl Liebknecht, created the Spartacus group, has carried on its propaganda in the Bremen Arbeiterpolitik.
The objective circumstances of the imperialist war make it certain that the revolution will not be limited to the first stage of the Russian revolution, that the revolution will not be limited to Russia.
The German proletariat is the most trustworthy, the most reliable ally of the Russian and the world proletarian revolution.
When, in November 1914, our Party put forward the slogan: "Turn the imperialist war into a civil war" of the oppressed against the oppressors for the attainment of socialism, the social-patriots met this slogan with hatred and malicious ridicule, and the Social-Democratic "Centre", with incredulous, sceptical, meek and expectant silence. David, the German social-chauvinist and social-imperialist, called it "insane", while Mr. Plekhanov, the representative of Russian (and Anglo-French) social-chauvinism, of socialism in words, imperialism in deeds, called it a "farcical dream" (Mittelding zwischen Traum und Komödie [*]). The representatives of the Centre confined themselves to silence or to cheap little jokes about this "straight line drawn in empty space".
Now, after March 1917, only the blind can fail to see that it is a correct slogan. Transformation of the imperialist war into civil war is becoming a fact.
Long live the proletarian revolution that is beginning in Europe!
On behalf of the departing comrades, members of the
R.S.D.L.P. (united under the Central Committee),
who approved this letter at a meeting held April 8
(new style), 1917.
* Something between a dream and a comedy. --Ed.