people are attending the regional congress of Poor Peasants' Committees in Petrograd and that there is remarkable enthusiasm and high spirits.
As events unfolding throughout Russia became more evident, the village poor realised from their own experience when they went into action what the struggle against the kulaks meant, and that to keep the cities supplied with food and to re-establish commodity exchange, without which the countryside cannot live, they must part company with the rural bourgeoisie and the kulaks. They have to organise separately. And we have now taken the first and most momentous step of the socialist revolution in the countryside. We could not have taken that step in October. We gauged the moment when we could approach the people. And we have now reached a point where the socialist revolution in the rural areas has begun, where in every village, even the most remote the peasant knows that his rich neighbour, the kulak, if he is engaged in grain profiteering, sees everything in the light of his old, backwoods mentality.
And so the countryside, the rural poor, uniting with their leaders, the city workers, are only now providing us with a firm and stable foundation for real socialist construction. Socialist construction will only now begin in the countryside. Only now are Soviets and farms being formed which are systematically working towards large-scale socialised farming, towards making full use of knowledge, science and technology, realising that even simple, elementary human culture cannot be based on the old, reactionary, ignorant way of life. The work here is even more difficult than in industry, and even more mistakes are being made by our local committees and Soviets. But they learn from
their mistakes. We are not afraid of mistakes when they are made by ordinary people who take a conscientious attitude to socialist construction, because we rely only on the experience and effort of our own people.
And now the tremendous upheaval that in so short a time has led us to socialism in the countryside shows that this fight has been crowned with success. The Red Army is the most striking proof of that. You know the state we were in during the imperialist world war when conditions in Russia made life unbearable for the common people. We know that at that time we were in an utterly helpless state. We frankly told the working people the whole truth. We exposed the secret imperialist treaties, the fruits of a policy which serves as a massive instrument of deception, and which in America today, the most advanced of the bourgeois imperialist democratic republics, is more than ever deceiving the people and leading them by the nose. When the imperialist character of the war became patent to all, the Russian Soviet Republic was the only country that completely shattered the bourgeoisie's secret foreign policy. We exposed the secret treaties and declared, through Comrade Trotsky, to all countries of the world: We appeal to you to put an end to this war in a democratic way, without annexations and indemnities, and frankly and proudly declare the truth, a bitter truth but the truth nevertheless, that only a revolution against the bourgeois governments can put an end to this war. But we stood alone. So we had to pay the price of that terribly excruciating peace which was forced upon us by the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and which drove many of our sympathizers to gloom and despair. That was because we were alone. But we did our duty and showed up the aims of the war for everyone to see! The onslaught of German imperialism was able to overwhelm us because it took some time before our workers and peasants could organise properly. We had no army then; all we had was the old, disorganised, imperialist army which had been driven to fight in the war for aims which the soldiers did not support and with which they did not sympathise. So we had to go through a very painful period. It was a time when the people needed a respite from the terrible imperialist war, and had to realise that a new war was beginning. We are entitled to regard the war we shall
wage in defence of our socialist revolution as our war. That is what millions and tens of millions of people had to learn to appreciate from their own experience. It took months. It took a long and hard battle for this realisation to get through. By this summer, however, everyone saw that it had got through at last, and that the breakthrough had come. Everyone realised that to have the army fight for the Soviet Republic, the army that comes from the people, that is sacrificing itself, and that after four years of bloody slaughter is again prepared to go to war, our country had to replace the weariness and despair of the people going to war by a clear realisation that they go to their death for their own cause: for the workers' and peasants' Soviets and the socialist republic. That has been achieved.
The victories we gained over the Czechs in the summer, and the news of big victories now coming in go to show that a turning-point has come, and that the hardest task -- organising the people in a politically-conscious, socialist way after four years of terrible war -- has been achieved. That political consciousness has penetrated a long way among the people. Tens of millions of people have come to realise they are tackling a difficult job. And that gives us assurance that we shall not despair, even though the forces of world imperialism, stronger than us today, are being mustered against us, even though we are surrounded by the soldiers of the imperialists, who realise the menace from the Soviet government and are eager to strangle it, and even though we truthfully say they are stronger than us.
We say we are growing, the Soviet Republic is growing. The cause of the proletarian revolution is growing faster than the imperialist forces are closing in upon us. We are full of hope and assurance that we are fighting in the interests of the world socialist revolution as well as the Russian socialist revolution. Our hopes of victory are growing faster because our workers are becoming more politically conscious. What was the state of Soviet organisation last October? Only the first steps were being taken. We could not make it perfect or put it on a proper basis. But now we have the Soviet Constitution. The Soviet Constitution; ratified in July, is, as we know, not the invention of a commission, nor the creation of lawyers, nor is it copied from other
constitutions. The world has never known such a constitution as ours. It embodies the workers' experience of struggle and organisation against the exploiters both at home and abroad. We possess a fund of fighting experience. (Applause.) And this fund of experience has provided a striking corroboration of the fact that the organised workers created a Soviet government without civil servants, without a standing army and without privileges (privileges in practice for the bourgeoisie), and that they created the foundations of a new system in the factories. We are getting down to work and drawing in new helpers, who are essential if the Soviet Constitution is to be carried into effect. We now have ready new recruits, young peasant, who must be drawn into the work and help us carry the job through.
The last question I want to touch upon is the international situation. We are standing shoulder to shoulder with our international comrades, and we have now seen for ourselves the resoluteness and enthusiasm they put into their conviction that the Russian proletarian revolution will go along with them as the world revolution.
As the revolution's international significance grew, the imperialists of the whole world banded even closer and more furiously together against us. In October 1917 they regarded our Republic as a curiosity not worth serious attention. In February they regarded it as an experiment in socialism not to be taken seriously. But the Republic's army grew and gained in strength until the very difficult task of creating a socialist Red Army had been accomplished. As our cause gained in strength and its successes multiplied, the opposition and the hatred of the imperialists of all countries grew more rabid. Things have reached a state where British and French capitalists, who had proclaimed they were Wilhelm's enemies, are now on the verge of joining forces with this same Wilhelm in an effort to strangle the Socialist Soviet Republic. For they have come to realise that it is no longer a curiosity or an experiment in socialism, but the hotbed, the really genuine hotbed, of the world socialist revolution. Hence, the number of our enemies has increased along with the successes of our revolution. We must realise what is lying in store for us, without in any way concealing the gravity of the situation. We shall go to meet it not alone
but with the workers of Vienna and Berlin, who are moving into the same fight, and who will perhaps bring greater discipline and class-consciousness to our common cause.
To give you an idea of how the clouds are gathering over our Soviet Republic and what dangers are threatening us, I shall read you the full text of a Note sent to us by the German Government through its consulate:
"G. V. Chicherin, People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Moscow, November 5, 1918.
On the instructions of the German Imperial Government, the Imperial German Consulate has the honour to notify the Russian Federative Soviet Republic of the following: The German Government has already had occasion to protest twice against the impermissible campaign that is being conducted against German state institutions through declarations made by official Russian authorities in contravention of Article 2 of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. It can no longer confine itself to protests against this campaign, which is not only a violation of the said stipulations of the Treaty, but a serious departure from normal international practice.
When the Soviet Government established its Diplomatic Legation in Berlin after the conclusion of the Peace Treaty, Herr Joffe, the appointed Russian representative, received a clear reminder of the need to refrain from any agitation or propaganda in Germany. To this he replied that he was acquainted with Article 2 of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and was aware that in his capacity as representative of a foreign Power he must not interfere in Germany's internal affairs. Herr Joffe and the departments in his charge accordingly enjoyed in Berlin the attention and confidence normally accorded to extraterritorial foreign legations. This confidence was, however, betrayed. It has been clear for some time that the Russian Legation has been in close contact with certain people working for the overthrow of the political order in Germany, and, by employing such people in its service, has been interested in a movement aimed at overthrowing the existing system in Germany.
The following incident, which occurred on the 4th instant, revealed that the Russian Legation, by importing leaflets calling for revolution, is even taking an active part in movements aimed at overthrowing the existing order, thereby abusing the privilege of employing diplomatic couriers. Because one of the boxes in the official baggage of the Russian courier who arrived in Berlin yesterday was damaged during transportation, it was ascertained that the boxes contained revolutionary leaflets printed in German and, judging by their contents, designed for dissemination in Germany.
The German Government has further grounds for complaint because of the attitude taken by the Soviet Government towards the expiation to be made for the assassination of Count Mirbach, the Imperial Ambassador. The Russian Government solemnly declared that it would do everything in its power to bring the criminals to court. But the German
Government has not observed any signs of the prosecution and punishment of the criminals having been undertaken, or even of any intention of it being done. The murderers escaped from a house surrounded on all sides by Public Security men of the Russian Government. The instigators of the assassination, who have publicly admitted they were behind the whole affair, to this day go unpunished and, according to information received, have even been pardoned.
The German Government protests against such violations of the Treaty and of public law. It is obliged to demand guarantees from the Russian Government that no further agitation and propaganda running counter to the Peace Treaty will be conducted. It must furthermore insist on the expiation of the assassination of the Ambassador, Count Mirbach, by the punishment of the perpetrators and instigators of the murder. Until such time as these demands are satisfied, the German Government must request the Government of the Soviet Republic to withdraw its diplomatic and other representatives from Germany. The Russian plenipotentiary in Berlin was today informed that a special train for the departure of the diplomatic and consular representatives in Berlin and of other Russian officials in the city will be ready tomorrow evening, and that measures will be taken to secure the unhampered transit of all Russian personnel to the Russian frontier. The Soviet Government is requested to enable the German representatives in Moscow and Petrograd to leave at the same time, with the observance of all the demands of courtesy. Other Russian representatives in Germany, and likewise German officials in other parts of Russia, will be informed they must leave within a week, the former for Russia, the latter for Germany. The German Government concludes in anticipation that all the rules of courtesy will be similarly observed towards the latter German officials in relation to their departure and that other German subjects or persons under German protection will be allowed the opportunity of unhampered departure should they request it."
We all know perfectly well, comrades, that the German Government has been fully aware that German socialists enjoyed the hospitality of the Russian Embassy and that no supporters of German imperialism ever crossed the threshold of the Russian Embassy. Its friends were those socialists who opposed the war and who sympathised with Karl Liebknecht. They have been guests of the Embassy ever since it opened, and we have had dealings with them alone. The German Government was perfectly aware of that. It followed the movements of every representative of our government as zealously as the government of Nicholas II used to follow the movements of our comrades. The German Government is now making this move not because the situation has in any way changed, but because it formerly felt stronger, and was not afraid that one "burning' house on the streets of Berlin
would set all Germany alight. The German Government has lost its head, and now that the whole of Germany is ablaze, it thinks it can put out the fire by turning its police hose on a single house. (Stormy applause.)
That is simply ridiculous. If the German Government is going to break off diplomatic relations, all we call say is that we knew it would, and that it is doing all it can to get an alliance with the British and French imperialists. We know Wilson's government has received telegram after telegram requesting that German troops be left in Poland, the Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia. Although they are enemies of German imperialism, the German troops are doing their job: they are putting down the Bolsheviks.[*] They can clear out when pro-Entente "armies of liberation" appear on the scene to strangle the Bolsheviks.
We are perfectly aware of what is going on and none of it is unexpected. We merely repeat that now that Germany is on fire and Austria is all ablaze, now that they have had to liberate Liebknecht and allow him to visit the Russian Embassy, where a joint meeting of Russian and German socialists with Liebknecht at their head was held, such a step on the part of the German Government shows not so much that they want to fight as that they have completely lost their heads. It shows they are at a loss for a decision because Anglo-American imperialism, the most brutal enemy of all, is advancing upon them, an enemy that has crushed Austria with peace terms a hundred times more onerous than those of the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty. Germany sees that these liberators want to strangle, crush and torture her too. But at the same time the workingman's Germany is rebelling. The German army proved to be useless and unfit for action not because discipline was weak but because the soldiers who refused to fight were transferred from the Eastern front to the German Western front and carried with them what the bourgeoisie call world Bolshevism.
That is why the German army was unfit for action and why this document is the best proof of Germany's utter confusion. We say it will lead to a diplomatic rupture, and perhaps even to war if they can find the strength to lead the white guard troops. We have therefore sent a telegram to all the
* See pp. 128-30 of this volume. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Resolution Adopted at a Joint Session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, the Moscow Soviet, Factory Committees and Trade Unions". -- DJR]
Soviets of Deputies, which concludes by warning them to be on their guard, to hold themselves in readiness and muster all their forces, for this is just another sign that the chief aim of international imperialism is the overthrow of Bolshevism. That does not mean defeating Russia alone. It means defeating their own workers in every country. But they will not succeed, no matter what brutalities and outrages may follow this decision. These vultures are preparing to swoop down on Russia from the South, through the Dardanelles, or by way of Bulgaria and Rumania. They are negotiating for the formation of a White Army in Germany to be pitted against Russia. We are fully aware of this danger, and say quite plainly that we have not worked a year for nothing; we have laid the foundations, we are coming up to decisive battles, battles which will indeed be decisive. But we are not alone: the proletariat of Western Europe has gone into action and has not left anything standing in Austria-Hungary. The government of the country is just about as helpless, as wildly confused, has lost its head as completely as Nicholas Romanov's government at the end of February 1917. Our slogan must be: Put every effort into the fight once more, and remember that we are coming up to the last, decisive fight, not for the Russian revolution alone, but for the world socialist revolution.
We know that the imperialist vultures are still stronger than us. They can still inflict wholesale damage, brutalities and atrocities upon our country. But they cannot defeat the world revolution. They are full of savage hatred, so we tell ourselves that come what may, every Russian worker and peasant will do his duty and will face death if the interests of defence of the revolution demand it. No matter what miseries the imperialists may still inflict upon us, it will not save them. Imperialism will perish and the world socialist revolution will triumph in face of all odds! (Stormy applause passing into prolonged ovation.)