The Political Situation

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V. I. Lenin


Written on July 10 (23), 1917
Published on August 2 (July 20),
1917, in Proletarskoye Dyelo No. 6
Signed: W

Published according to
the manuscript

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1974

First printing 1964
Second printing 1974

Vol. 25, pp. 178-80.

Translated from the Russian
Edited by Stephan Apresyan
and Jim Riordan

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (January 1999)

page 178




    1. The counter-revolution has become organised and consolidated, and has actually taken state power into its hands.

    The complete organisation and consolidation of the counter-revolution consists in a combination of its three main forces, a combination excellently conceived and already put into practice: (1.) The Constitutional-Democratic Party, i.e., the real leader of the organised bourgeoisie, has, withdrawing from the Cabinet, confronted it with an ultimatum, thus clearing the way for the Cabinet's overthrow by the counter-revolution; (2.) The General Staff and the military leaders, with the deliberate or semi-deliberate assistance of Kerensky, whom even the most prominent Socialist-Revolutionaries now call a Cavaignac, have seized actual state power and have proceeded to shoot down revolutionary units at the front, disarm the revolutionary troops and workers in Petrograd and Moscow, suppress unrest in Nizhni-Novgorod, arrest Bolsheviks and ban their papers, not only without trial, but even without a government order. At present, basic state power in Russia is virtually a military dictatorship. This fact is still obscured by a number of institutions that are revolutionary in words but powerless in deeds. Yet it is so obvious and fundamental a fact that, without understanding it, one cannot understand anything about the political situation. (3.) The Black Hundreds monarchist and bourgeois press, which has switched from hounding Bolsheviks to hounding the Soviets, the "incendiary" Chernov, etc., has indicated with the utmost clarity that the true meaning of the policy of military dictatorship, which now reigns supreme and is supported by the Cadets

page 179

and monarchists, is preparation for disbanding the Soviets. Many of the leaders of the S.R.s and Mensheviks, i.e., the present majority in the Soviets, have admitted and expressed this during the past few days, but, true to their petty-bourgeois nature, they shrug off this formidable reality with meaningless high-sounding phrases.

    2. The leaders of the Soviets and of the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties, headed by Tsereteli and Chernov, have completely betrayed the cause of the revolution by putting it in the hands of the counter-revolutionaries and by turning themselves, their parties and the Soviets into mere fig-leaves of the counter-revolution.

    Proof of this is that the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks have betrayed the Bolsheviks and have tacitly agreed to close down their papers without daring to tell the people plainly and openly that they are doing so and why. By sanctioning the disarming of the workers and the revolutionary regiments, they have deprived themselves of all real power. They have turned into the most loud-mouthed ranters who help the reaction to "divert" the people's attention until it is finally ready to disband the Soviets. It is impossible to understand anything at all about the present political situation without realising this complete and final bankruptcy of the S.R.s and Mensheviks and the present majority in the Soviets and without realising that their "Directory" and other masquerades are an absolute sham.

    3. All hopes for a peaceful development of the Russian revolution have vanished for good. This is the objective situation: either complete victory for the military dictatorship, or victory for the workers' armed uprising; the latter victory is only possible when it coincides with a deep mass upheaval against the government and the bourgeoisie caused by economic disruption and the prolongation of the war.

    The slogan "All Power to the Soviets!" was a slogan for peaceful development of the revolution which was possible in April, May, June, and up to July 5-9, i.e., up to the time when actual power passed into the hands of the military dictatorship. This slogan is no longer correct, for it does not take into account that power has changed

page 180

hands and that the revolution has in fact been completely betrayed by the S.R.s and Mensheviks. Reckless actions, revolts, partial resistance, or hopeless hit-and-run attempts to oppose reaction will not help. What will help is a clear understanding of the situation, endurance and determination of the workers' vanguard, preparation of forces for the armed uprising, for the victory of which conditions at present are extremely difficult, but still possible if the facts and trends mentioned in the thesis coincide. Let us have no constitutional or republican illusions of any kind, no more illusions about a peaceful path, no sporadic actions, no yielding now to provocation from the Black Hundreds and Cossacks. Let us muster our forces, reorganise them, and resolutely prepare for the armed uprising, if the course of the crisis permits it on a really mass, country-wide scale. The transfer of land to the peasants is impossible at present without an armed uprising, since the counter-revolutionaries, having taken power, have completely united with the landowners as a class.

    The aim of the insurrection can only be to transfer power to the proletariat, supported by the poor peasants, with a view to putting our Party programme into effect.

    4. The party of the working class, without abandoning legal activity but never for a moment overrating it, must combine legal with illegal work, as it did in 1912-14.

    Don't let a single hour of legal work slip by. But don't cherish any constitutional or "peaceful" illusions. Form illegal organisations or cells everywhere and at once for the publication of leaflets, etc. Reorganise immediately, consistently, resolutely, all along the line.

    Act as we did in 1912-14, when we could speak about overthrowing tsarism by a revolution and an armed uprising, without at the same time losing our legal base in the Duma, the insurance societies, the trade unions, etc.

page 580



  <"en77">[77] The article "The Political Situation " was first published in the Kronstadt Bolshevik paper Proletarskoye Dyelo No. 6 on August 2 (July 20), 1917, under the heading "Political Mood".

    To safeguard the newspaper against suppression by the Provisional Government, the editors substituted "a resolute fight" for "an armed uprising". In this volume, the article appears according to the manuscript.    [p. 178]