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V. I. Lenin
THE CRISIS HAS MATURED
The end of September undoubtedly marked a great turning-point in the history of the Russian revolution and, to all appearances, of the world revolution as well.
The world working-class revolution began with the action of individuals, whose boundless courage represented everything honest that remained of that decayed official "socialism" which is in reality social-chauvinism. Liebknecht in Germany, Adler in Austria, MacEean in Britain -- these are the best-known names of the isolated heroes who have taken upon themselves the arduous role of forerunners of the world revolution.
The second stage in the historical preparation for this revolution was a widespread mass discontent, expressing itself in the split of the official parties, in illegal publications and in street demonstrations. The protest against the war became stronger, and the number of victims of government persecution increased. The prisons of countries famed for their observance of law and even for their freedom -- Germany, France, Italy and Britain -- became filled with tens and hundreds of internationalists, opponents of the war and advocates of a working-class revolution.
The third stage has now begun. This stage may be called the eve of revolution. Mass arrests of party leaders in free Italy, and particularly the beginning of mutinies in the German army, are indisputable symptoms that a great turning-point is at hand, that we are on the eve of a world wide revolution.
Even before this there were, no doubt, individual cases of mutiny among the troops in Germany, but they were
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so small, so weak and isolated that it was possible to hush them up -- and that was the chief way of checking the mass contagion of seditious action. Finally, there developed such a movement in the navy that it was impossible to hush it up, despite all the severity of the German regime of military servitude, severity elaborated with amazing minuteness of detail and observed with incredible pedantry.
Doubt is out of the question. We are on the threshold of a world proletarian revolution. And since of all the proletarian internationalists in all countries only we Russian Bolsheviks enjoy a measure of freedom -- we have a legal party and a score or so of papers, we have the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies of both capitals on our side, and we have the support of a majority of the people in a time of revolution -- to us the saying, "To whom much has been given, of him much shall be required" in all justice can and must be applied.
The crucial point of the revolution in Russia has undoubtedly arrived.
In a peasant country, and under a revolutionary, republican government which enjoys the support of the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties that only yesterday dominated petty-bourgeois democracy, a peasant revolt is developing.
Incredible as this is, it is a fact.
We Bolsheviks are not surprised by this fact. We have always said that the government of the notorious "coalition" with the bourgeoisie is a government that betrays democracy and the revolution, that it is a government of imperialist slaughter, a government that protects the capitalists and landowners from the people.
Owing to the deception practised by the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, there still exists in Russia, under a republic and in a time of revolution, a government of capitalists and landowners side by side with the Soviets. This is the bitter and sinister reality. Is it then surprising, in view of the incredible hardship inflicted on the people
by prolonging the imperialist war and by its consequences, that a peasant revolt has begun and is spreading in Russia?
Is it then surprising that the enemies of the Bolsheviks, the leaders of the official Socialist-Revolutionary Party, the very party that supported the "coalition" all along, the party that until the last few days or weeks had the majority of the people on its side, the party that continues to harry and abuse the "new" Socialist-Revolutionaries, who have realised that the policy of coalition is a betrayal of the interests of the peasants -- is it surprising that these leaders of the official Socialist-Revolutionary Party wrote the following in an editorial in their official organ, Dyelo Naroda of September 29:
"So far practically nothing has been done to put an end to the relations of bondage that still prevail in the villages of central Russia. . . . The bill for the regulation of land relations in the countryside, which was introduced in the Provisional Government long ago, and which has even passed through such a purgatory as the Judicial Conference, has got hopelessly stuck in some office. . . . Are we not right in asserting that our republican government is still a long way from having rid itself of the old habits of the tsarist administration, and that the dead hand of Stolypin is still making itself strongly felt in the methods of the revolutionary ministers?"
This is written by the official Socialist-Revolutionaries! Just think: the supporters of the coalition are forced to admit that in a peasant country, after seven months of revolution, "practically nothing has been done to put an end to the bondage" of the peasants, to their enslavement by the land owners! These Socialist-Revolutionaries are forced to give the name of Stolypins to their colleague, Kerensky, and his gang of ministers.
Could we get more eloquent testimony than this from the camp of our opponents, not only to the effect that the coalition has collapsed and that the official Socialist-Revolutionaries who tolerate Kerensky have become an anti-popular, anti-peasant and counter-revolutionary party, but also that the whole Russian revolution has reached a turning-point?
A peasant revolt in a peasant country against the government of the Socialist-Revolutionary Kerensky, the Mensheviks Nikitin and Gvozdyov, and other ministers who represent capital and the interests of the landowners! The
crushing of this revolt by military measures by a republican government!
In the face of such facts, can one remain a conscientious champion of the proletariat and yet deny that a crisis has matured, that the revolution is passing through an extremely critical moment, that the government's victory over the peasant revolt would now sound the death knell of the revolution, would be the final triumph of the Kornilov revolt ? <"s3">
It is obvious that if in a peasant country, after seven months of a democratic republic, matters could come to a peasant revolt, it irrefutably proves that the revolution is suffering nation-wide collapse, that it is experiencing a crisis of unprecedented severity, and that the forces of counter-revolution have gone the limit.
That is obvious. In the face of such a fact as a peasant revolt all other political symptoms, even were they to contradict the fact that a nation-wide crisis is maturing, would have no significance whatsoever.
But on the contrary, all the symptoms do indicate that a nation-wide crisis has matured.
Next to the agrarian question, the most important question in Russia's state affairs is the national question, particularly for the petty-bourgeois masses of the population. And at the "Democratic" Conference, which was fixed by Mr. Tsereteli and Co., we find that the "national" curia takes second place for radicalism, yielding only to the trade unions, and exceeding the curia of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies in the percentage of votes cast against the coalition (40 out of 55). The Kerensky government -- a government suppressing the peasant revolt -- is withdrawing the revolutionary troops from Finland in order to strengthen the reactionary Finnish bourgeoisie. In the Ukraine, the conflicts of the Ukrainians in general, and of the Ukrainian troops in particular, with the government are becoming more and more frequent.
Furthermore, let us take the army, which in war-time plays an exceptionally big role in all state affairs. We find
that the army in Finland and the neet in the Baltic have completely parted ways with the government. We have the testimony of the officer Dubasov, a non-Bolshevik,<"p80"> who speaks in the name of the whole front and declares in a manner more revolutionary than that of any Bolsheviks that the soldiers will not fight any longer. We have governmental reports stating that the soldiers are in a state of "agitation" and that it is impossible to guarantee the maintenance of "order" (i.e., participation of these troops in the suppression of the peasant revolt). We have, finally, the voting in Moscow, where fourteen thousand out of seventeen thousand soldiers voted for the Bolsheviks.
This vote in the elections to the district councils in Moscow is in general one of the most striking symptoms of the profound change which has taken place in the mood of the whole nation. It is generally known that Moscow is more petty-bourgeois than Petrograd. It is a fact frequently corroborated and indisputable that the Moscow proletariat has an incomparably greater number of connections with the countryside, that it has greater sympathy for the peasant and is closer to the sentiments of the peasant.
In Moscow the vote cast for the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks nevertheless dropped from 70 per cent in June to 18 per cent. There can be no doubt that the petty bourgeoisie and the people have turned away from the coalition. The Cadets have increased their strength from 17 to 30 per cent, but they remain a minority, a hopeless minority, despite the fact that they have<"p80a"> obviously been joined by the "Right" Socialist-Revolutionaries, and the "Right" Mensheviks. Russkiye Vedomosti  states that the absolute number of votes cast for the Cadets fell from 67,000 to 62,000. Only the votes cast for the Bolsheviks increased -- from 34,000 to 82,000. They received 47 per cent of the total vote. There can be no shadow of doubt that we, together with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, now have a majority in the Soviets, in the army, and in the country.
Among the symptoms that have not only a symptomatic, but also a very real significance is the fact that the armies of railway and postal employees, who are of immense importance from the general economic, political and military point of view, continue to be in sharp conflict with the <"p81">
government, even the Menshevik defencists are dissatisfied with "their" Minister, Nikitin, and the official Socialist-Revolutionaries call Kerensky and Co. "Stolypins". Is it not clear that if such "support" of the government by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries has any value at all it can be only a negative value? <"s4">
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . <"s5"> V
Yes, the leaders of the Central Executive Committee are pursuing the correct tactics of defending the bourgeoisie and the landowners. And there is not the slightest doubt that if the Bolsheviks allowed themselves to be caught in the trap of constitutional illusions, "faith" in the Congress of Soviets and in the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, "waiting" for the Congress of Soviets, and so forth -- these Bolsheviks would most certainly be miserable traitors to the proletarian cause.
They would be traitors to the cause, for by their conduct they would be betraying the German revolutionary workers who have started a revolt in the navy. To "wait" for the Congress of Soviets and so forth under such circumstances would be a betrayal of internationalism, a betrayal of the cause of the world socialist revolution.
For internationalism consists of deeds and not phrases, not expressions of solidarity, not resolutions.
The Bolsheviks would be traitors to the peasants, for to tolerate the suppression of the peasant revolt by a government which even Dyelo Naroda compares with the Stolypin government would be to ruin the whole revolution, to ruin it for good. An outcry is raised about anarchy and about the increasing indifference of the people, but what else can the people be but indifferent to the elections, when the peasants have been driven to revolt while the so-called "revolutionary democrats" are patiently tolerating its suppression by military force!
The Bolsheviks would be traitors to democracy and to freedom, for to tolerate the suppression of the peasant revolt at such a moment would mean allowing the elections to the Constituent Assembly to be fixed in exactly the same way as the Democratic Conference and the "Pre-parliament" were fixed, only even worse and more crudely.
The crisis has matured. The whole future of the Russian revolution is at stake. The honour of the Bolshevik Party is in question. The whole future of the international workers' revolution for socialism is at stake.
The crisis has matured. . . .
September 29, 1917.
Everything to this point may be published, but what follows is to be distributed among the members of the Central Committee, the Petrograd Committee, the Moscow Committee, and the Soviets. <"s6">
What, then, is to be done? We must aussprechen was ist, "state the facts", admit the truth that there is a tendency, or an opinion, in our Central Committee and among the leaders of our Party which favours waiting for the Congress of Soviets,<"p82"> and is opposed to taking power immediately, is opposed to an immediate insurrection. That tendency, or opinion, must be overcome.
Otherwise, the Bolsheviks will cover themselves with eternal shame and destroy themselves as a party.
For to miss such a moment and to "wait" for the Congress of Soviets would be utter idiocy, or sheer treachery.
It would be sheer treachery to the German workers. Surely we should not wait until their revolution begins. In that case even the Lieberdans would be in favour of "supporting" it. But it cannot begin as long as Kerensky, Kishkin and Co. are in power.
It would be sheer treachery to the peasants. To allow the peasant revolt to be suppressed when we control the Soviets
of both capitals would be to lose, and justly lose, every ounce of the peasants' confidence. In the eyes of the peasants we would be putting ourselves on a level with the Lieberdans and other scoundrels.
To "wait" for the Congress of Soviets would be utter idiocy, for it would mean losing weeks at a time when weeks and even days decide everything. It would mean faint-heartedly renouncing power, for on November 1-2 it will have become impossible to take power (both politically and technically, since the Cossacks would be mobilised for the day of the insurrection so foolishly "appointed"[*]).
To "wait" for the Congress of Soviets is idiocy, for the Congress will give nothing, and can give nothing !
"Moral" importance? Strange indeed, to talk of the "importance" of resolutions and conversations with the Lieberdans when we know that the Soviets support the peasants and that the peasant revolt is being suppressed ! We would be reducing the Soviets to the status of wretched debating parlours. First defeat Kerensky, then call the Congress.
The Bolsheviks are now guaranteed the success of the insurrection: (1) we can** (if we do not "wait" for the Soviet Congress) launch a surprise attack from three points -- from Petrograd, from Moscow and from the Baltic fleet; (2) we have slogans that guarantee us support -- down with the government that is suppressing the revolt of the peasants against the landowners! (3) we have a majority in the country ; (4) the disorganisation among the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries is complete; (5) we are technically in a position to take power in Moscow (where the start might even be made, so as to catch the enemy unawares); (6;) we have thousands of armed workers and soldiers in Petrograd who could at once seize the Winter Palace, the General Staff building, the telephone exchange
* To "convene" the Congress of Soviets for October 20 in order to decide upon "taking power" -- how does that differ from foolishly "appointing" an insurrection? It is possible to take power now, whereas on October 20-29 you will not be given a chance to.
** What has the Party done to study the disposition of the troops, etc? What has it done to conduct the insurrection as an art? Mere talk in the Central Executive Committee, and so on!
and the large printing presses. Nothing will be able to drive us out, while agitational work in the army will be such as to make it impossible to combat this government of peace, of land for the peasants, and so forth.
If we were to attack at once, suddenly, from three points, Petrograd, Moscow and the Baltic fleet, the chances are a hundred to one that we would succeed with smaller sacrifices than on July 3-5, because the troops will not advance against a government of peace. Even though Kerensky already has "loyal" cavalry, etc., in Petrograd, if we were to attack from two sides, he would be compelled to surrender since we enjoy the sympathy of the army. If with such chances as we have at present we do not take power, then all talk of transferring the power to the Soviets becomes a lie.
To refrain from taking power now, to "wait", to indulge in talk in the Central Executive Committee, to confine ourselves to "fighting for the organ" (of the Soviet), "fighting for the Congress", is to doom the revolution to failure.
In view of the fact that the Central Committee has even left unanswered the persistent demands I have been making for such a policy ever since the beginning of the Democratic Conference, in view of the fact that the Central Organ is deleting from my articles all references to such glaring errors on the part of the Bolsheviks as the shameful decision to participate in the Pre-parliament, the admission of Mensheviks to the Presidium of the Soviet, etc., etc. -- I am compelled to regard this as a "subtle" hint at the unwillingness of the Central Committee even to consider this question, a subtle hint that I should keep my mouth shut, and as a proposal for me to retire.
I am compelled to tender my resignation from the Central Committee, which I hereby do, reserving for myself freedom to campaign among the rank and file of the Party and at the Party Congress.
For it is my profound conviction that if we "wait" for the Congress of Soviets and let the present moment pass, we shall ruin the revolution.
P.S. There are a number of facts which serve to prove that even the Cossack troops will not go against a government of peace! And how many are there? Where are they? And will not the entire army dispatch units for our support ?
<"en43"> Written in Vyborg. It consisted of six chapters, the last not being intended for publication but for circulation among members of the Central Committee, the Petrograd and Moscow Committees and the Soviets. Only the manuscript of the last two chapters has come down to us. The article was first published in four chapters in Rabochy Put No. 30 of October 20 (7), 1917; a comparison of the newspaper text and the manuscript shows that one of the chapters was omitted and Chapter V was headed as Chapter IV.
The article was widely carried by Bolshevik periodicals. [p. 74]
<"en44"> The reference is to the revolutionary action by German sailors in August 1917, who were led by a revolutionary sailors' organisation numbering 4,000 members (late July 1917). It was led by sea men Max Reichpietsch and Albin Köbis of the Friedrich der Grosse. The organisation decided to fight for a democratic peace and prepare for an uprising. Manifestations broke out in the navy in early August. Sailors of the warship Prinzeregent Luitpold, which was at Wilhelmshaven, took absence without leave to fight for the release of their comrades who had earlier been arrested for staging a strike; on August 16, the firemen of the Westphalia refused to work; at the same time the crew of the cruiser Nürnberg, which was out at sea, staged an uprising. The sailors' movement spread to the ships of several squadrons at Wilhelmshaven . These manifestations were put down with great savagery. Reichpietsch and Köbis were shot and other active participants were sentenced to long terms of hard labour. [p. 74]
<"en45"> The reference is to what an officer, Dubasov, said at a meeting of the Petrograd Soviet on September 21 (October 4), 1917. He had just returned from the front and declared: "Whatever you may say over here, the soldiers will not fight". [p. 80]
<"en46"> Russkiye Vedomosti (Russian Recorder ) -- a daily published in Moscow from 1863, expressing the views of moderate liberal intellectuals. From 1905 the paper was an organ of the Right wing of the Cadet Party. In 1918, it was closed down at the same time as other counter-revolutionary newspapers. [p. 80]
<"en47"> The reference is to the nation-wide strike of railwaymen for higher wages. It started on the night of September 23 (October 6), 1917, and threw the Provisional Government into a panic. The bourgeois press attacked the striking railwaymen.
The strike was discussed by the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) on September 24 (October 7), 1917. In an appeal, "Let's Help the Railwaymen", which was published in Rabochy Put (The Workers' Path ), the Central Committee exposed the counter-revolutionary policy of the Provisional Government and called on the proletariat to express full sympathy for the railwaymen, protect them from the provocative attacks of the counter-revolutionaries and do everything to prevent their strike from being isolated and defeated. The strike ended on the night of September 26 (October 9), 1917, when the Provisional Government satisfied some of the railwaymen's demands. [p. 81]
<"en48"> The reference is to the attitude of Kamenev, Zinoviev, Trotsky and their followers. Kamenev and Zinoviev opposed Lenin's plan for an armed uprising, declaring that the working class of Russia was incapable of carrying out a socialist revolution. They slid down to the Menshevik position of demanding a bourgeois republic. Trotsky insisted on a postponement of the uprising until the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets, which meant frustrating the insurrection because this gave the Provisional Government a chance to concentrate its forces on the opening day of the Congress and crush the uprising. [p. 82]