it may end in parliamentary cretinism; to support the Zemstvo liberal democrats -- it may lead to a "plan for a Zemstvo campaign". It would then be dangerous even to read the extremely useful writings of Jaurès and Aulard on the French Revolution -- it may lead to Martynov's pamphlet on two dictatorships.
It goes without saying that if the Social-Democrats were to forget, even for a moment, the class distinctiveness of the proletariat vis-à-vis the petty bourgeoisie, if they were to form an ill-timed and unprofitable alliance with one or another untrustworthy petty-bourgeois party of the intelligentsia, if the Social-Democrats were to lose sight, even for a moment, of their own independent aims and the need (in all political situations and exigencies, in all political crises and upheavals) for attaching paramount importance to developing the class-consciousness of the proletariat and its independent political organisation, then participation in the provisional revolutionary government would be extremely dangerous. But under such circumstances, any political step, we repeat, would be equally dangerous. The groundlessness of these possible apprehensions as applied to the present formulation of the immediate tasks of the revolutionary Social-Democrats is borne out by a few simple statements of fact. We shall not speak about ourselves or quote the numerous declarations, warnings, and counsels on this question given in Vperyod; we shall, instead, cite Parvus. He subscribes to the opinion that the Social-Democrats should participate in the provisional revolutionary government, and he is emphatic on the conditions, which we must never forget, namely, to strike together, but to march separately, not to merge organisations, to watch our ally as we would our enemy, etc. We shall not dwell in detail on this aspect of the question, having dealt with it in our previous article.
No, the real political danger to Social-Democracy today does not lie where the new-Iskrists are looking for it. It is not the thought of the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry that should frighten us, but rather the spirit of tail-ism and torpidity which has such a demoralising effect on the party of the proletariat and finds expression in all kinds of organisation-as-process, arming-as-process theories, and what not. To take, for instance, Iskra's latest attempt to set up a distinction between the provisional revolutionary government and the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. Is this not an example of lifeless scholasticism? People who invent such distinctions are capable of stringing together fine words but are absolutely incapable of thinking.
Actually, these concepts stand to each other roughly in the relation of legal form to class content. To speak of the "provisional revolutionary government" is to stress the constitutional aspect of the case, the fact that the government originates, not from the law, but from the revolution, that it is a temporary government committed to the future Constituent Assembly. But whatever the form, whatever the origin, whatever the conditions, one thing at any rate is clear -- that the provisional revolutionary government must have the support of definite classes. One has only to remember this simple truth to realise that the provisional revolutionary government can be nothing else but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. Therefore, Iskra's distinction only drags the Party back to fruitless disputes, away from the task of making a concrete analysis of the class interests in the Russian revolution.
Or, to take another Iskra argument. The slogan "Long Live the Revolutionary Provisional Government!" draws from that paper the didactic remark: "The combination of the words 'long live' and 'government' sullies the lips." What is this, if not sheer bombast? They talk about overthrowing the autocracy and yet fear to sully themselves by acclaiming the revolutionary government! Surprisingly, they are not afraid of sullying themselves by acclaiming a republic, for a republic necessarily implies a government, and -- no Social-Democrat ever doubted it -- a bourgeois government at that. In what way, then, does acclaiming the provisional revolutionary government differ from acclaiming the democratic republic? Must Social-Democracy, the political leader of the most revolutionary class, take after an anaemic and hysterical old maid who finically insists on a figleaf? Is it right to acclaim what the bourgeois-democratic government stands for, but wrong directly to acclaim the provisional revolutionary-democratic government?
Picture it: the uprising of the workers in St. Petersburg has been victorious; the autocracy is overthrown; the provisional revolutionary government has been proclaimed; the armed workers jubilate, with outcries of "Long Live the Provisional Revolutionary Government!" The new-Iskrists stand on the side lines, their innocent eyes raised heavenward, solemnly uttering as they beat their chaste breasts:
"We thank Thee, O Lord, that we are not like these wretches and have not sullied our lips with such word combinations. . . ."
No, comrades, a thousand times no! Have no fear of sullying yourselves by most energetic halting-at-nothing participation in a republican revolution together with the revolutionary bourgeois democrats. Do not exaggerate the dangers of such participation; our organised proletariat is quite capable of coping with them. More will be accomplished in months of the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry than in decades of the peaceful, stupefying atmosphere of political stagnation. If, after the Ninth of January, the Russian working class, under conditions of political slavery, was able to mobilise over a million proletarians for staunch, disciplined, collective action, then, given the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship, we will mobilise scores of millions of the urban and rural poor, and we will make the Russian political revolution the prelude to the socialist revolution in Europe.