ON THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
1. The demand for the convocation of a Constituent
Assembly was a perfectly legitimate part of the program of revolutionary
Social-Democracy, because in a bourgeois republic the Constituent Assembly
represents the highest form of democracy and because, in setting up a
parliament, the imperialist republic headed by Kerensky was preparing to fake
the elections and violate democracy in a number of ways.
2. While demanding the convocation of a Constituent
Assembly, revolutionary Social-Democracy has ever since the beginning of the
revolution of 1917 repeatedly emphasized that a republic of Soviets is a higher
form of democracy than the usual bourgeois republic with a Constituent Assembly.
3. For the transition from the bourgeois to the socialist
system, for the dictatorship of the proletariat, the republic of Soviets of
Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies is not only the form of a higher type
of democratic institution (as compared with the usual bourgeois republic crowned
by a Constituent Assembly), but is the only form capable of securing the most
painless transition to Socialism.
4. The convocation of the Constituent Assembly in our
revolution on the basis of lists submitted in the middle of October 1917 is
taking place under conditions which preclude the possibility of the elections to
this Constituent Assembly faithfully expressing the will of the people in
general and of the toiling masses in particular.
5. Firstly, proportional representation results in a
faithful expression of the will of the people only when the party lists
correspond to the real division of the people according to the party groupings
reflected in those lists. In our case, however, as is well known, the party
which from May to October had the largest number of followers among the people,
and especially among the peasantry -- the Socialist-Revolutionary Party -- came
out with united lists at the elections to the Constituent Assembly in the middle
of October 1917, but split after the elections and before the assembly met.
For this reason, there is not, nor can there be, even a
formal correspondence between the will of the mass of the electors and the
composition of the elected Constituent Assembly.
6. Secondly, a still more important, not a formal nor
legal, but a social-economic, class source of the discrepancy between the will
of the people, and especially of the toiling classes, on the one hand, and the
composition of the Constituent Assembly, on the other, is the fact that the
election to the Constituent Assembly took place at a time when the overwhelming
majority of the people could not yet know the full scope and significance of the
October, Soviet, proletarian peasant revolution, which began on October 25,
1917, i.e., after the lists of candidates for the Constituent Assembly had been
7. The October Revolution, which conquered power for the
Soviets, and which wrested the political rule from the bourgeoisie and
transferred it to the proletariat and poorest peasantry, is passing under our
eyes through successive stages of development.
8. It began with the victory of October 24-25 in the
capital, when the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and
Soldiers' Deputies, the vanguard of the proletarians and of the most politically
active section of the peasantry, gave a majority to the Bolshevik Party and put
it in power.
9. Then, in the course of November and December, the
revolution spread to the entire army and peasantry, being expressed first of all
in the deposition of the old leading bodies (army committees, gubernia peasant
committees, the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Soviet of
Peasants' Deputies, etc.) -- which expressed the superseded, compromising phase
of the revolution, its bourgeois and not proletarian, phase, and which were
therefore inevitably bound to disappear under the pressure of the deeper and
broader masses of the people -- and in the election of new leading bodies in
10. This mighty movement of the exploited masses for the
reconstruction of the leading bodies of their organizations has not ended even
now, in the middle of December 1917, and the Railwaymen's Congress, which is
still in session, represents one of its stages.
11. Consequently, the grouping of the class forces in
Russia in the course of their class struggle is in fact assuming in November and
December 1917 a form differing in principle from the one that the party lists of
candidates for the Constituent Assembly compiled in the middle of October 1917
could have reflected.
12. Recent events in the Ukraine (partly also in Finland
and Byelorussia, as well as in the Caucasus) similarly point to a regrouping of
class forces which is taking place in the process of the struggle between the
bourgeois nationalism of the Ukrainian Rada, the Finnish Diet, etc., on the one
hand, and the Soviet power, the proletarian-peasant revolution in each of these
national republics, on the other.
13. Lastly, the civil war which was started by the Cadet-Kaledin
counter-revolutionary revolt against the Soviet authorities, against the
workers' and peasants' government, has finally brought the class struggle to a
head and has destroyed every chance of settling in a formally democratic way the
very acute problems with which history has confronted the peoples of Russia, and
in the first place her working class and peasantry.
14. Only the complete victory of the workers and peasants
over the bourgeois and landlord revolt (as expressed in the Cadet-Kaledin
movement), only the ruthless military suppression of this revolt of the
slave-owners can really safeguard the proletarian-peasant revolution. The course
of events and the development of the class struggle in the revolution have
resulted in the slogan "All Power to the Constituent Assembly!" -- which
disregards the gains of the workers' and peasants' revolution, which disregards
the Soviet power, which disregards the decisions of the Second All-Russian
Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies, of the Second
All-Russian Congress of Peasants' Deputies, etc. -- becoming in fact the slogan
of the Cadets and the Kaledinites and of their helpers. It is growing clear to
the entire people that this slogan means in fact a struggle for the elimination
of the Soviet power, and that the Constituent Assembly, if it parted ways with
the Soviet power, would inevitably be doomed to political extinction.
15. One of the particularly acute problems of national
life is the problem of peace. A really revolutionary struggle for peace was
commenced in Russia only after the victory of the revolution of October 25, and
the first fruits of this victory were the publication of the secret treaties,
the conclusion of an armistice, and the beginning of open negotiations for a
general peace without annexations and indemnities.
Only now are the broad masses of the people actually
receiving opportunity fully and openly to observe the policy of revolutionary
struggle for peace and to study its results.
At the time of the elections to the Constituent Assembly
the masses of the people had no such opportunity.
It is clear that the discrepancy between the composition
of the elected Constituent Assembly and the real will of the people on the
question of terminating the war is inevitable from this point of view too.
16. The result of all the above-mentioned circumstances
taken in conjunction is that the Constituent Assembly, summoned on the basis of
party lists compiled before the proletarian-peasant revolution, and under the
rule of the bourgeoisie, must inevitably clash with the will and interests of
the toiling and exploited classes which on October 25 began the socialist
revolution against the bourgeoisie. Naturally, the interests of this revolution
stand higher than the formal rights of the Constituent Assembly, even if those
formal rights were not undermined by the absence in the law on the Constituent
Assembly of a provision recognizing the right of the people to replace their
deputies by means of new elections at any moment.
17. Every attempt, direct or indirect, to consider the
question of the Constituent Assembly from a formal, legal point of view, within
the limits of ordinary bourgeois democracy and disregarding the class struggle
and civil war, would be a betrayal of the cause of the proletariat, and the
adoption of the bourgeois standpoint. It is the bounden duty of the
revolutionary Social-Democrats to warn all and sundry against this error, into
which a few Bolshevik leaders, who have been unable to appreciate the
significance of the October uprising and the tasks of the dictatorship of the
proletariat, have strayed.
18. The only chance of securing a painless solution of
the crisis which has arisen owing to the divergence between the elections to the
Constituent Assembly, on the one hand, and the will of the people and the
interests of the toiling and exploited classes, on the other, is for the people
to exercise as broadly and as rapidly as possible the right to elect the members
of the Constituent Assembly anew, and for the Constituent Assembly to accept the
law of the Central Executive Committee on these new elections, to proclaim that
it unreservedly recognizes the Soviet power, the Soviet revolution, and its
policy on the questions of peace, the land and workers' control, and resolutely
to join the camp of the enemies of the Cadet-Kaledin counter-revolution.
19. Unless these conditions are fulfilled, the crisis in
connection with the Constituent Assembly can be settled only in a revolutionary
way, by the Soviet power adopting the most energetic, rapid, firm and determined
revolutionary measures against the Cadet-Kaledin counter-revolution, no matter
by what slogans and institutions (even membership of the Constituent Assembly)
this counter-revolution may screen itself. Any attempt to tie the hands of the
Soviet power in this struggle would be tantamount to aiding counter-revolution.