Ultimatum from the C.C. Majority

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V. I. Lenin


Written on November 3 (16), 1917
First published in 1922
in Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 10

Published according
to typewritten copy

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964

Vol. 26, pp. 280-82.

Translated from the Russian
by Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna
Edited by George Hanna

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, djr@marx2mao.org (October 1999)

page 280


    The majority on the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. (Bolsheviks), fully approving the policy so far pursued by the Council of People's Commissars, considers it necessary to address the following categorical statement to the minority on the Central Committee.

    Our Party's policy at the present moment is defined in the resolution submitted by Comrade Lenin and adopted yesterday, November 2, by the Central Committee.[*] This resolution declares that every attempt to induce our Party to decline power is treason to the proletariat's cause, since the All-Russia Congress of Soviets, in the name of the millions of workers, soldiers and peasants, has entrusted this power to the representatives of our Party on the basis of our programme. This fundamental line of our tactics, which follows logically from our whole struggle against the conciliators and which guided us in the uprising against Kerensky's government, at present constitutes the revolutionary essence of Bolshevism and is once again endorsed by the Central Committee. This line is absolutely binding on all members of the Party, and first and foremost, on the Central Committee minority.

    Yet members of the minority, both before and after yesterday's meeting of the Central Committee, have been pursuing a policy which obviously runs counter to our Party's fundamental line and which is demoralising our own ranks <"fnp280">

    * See pp. 277-79 of this volume. --Ed.  [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Resolution of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. on the Opposition within the Central Committee, November 2 (15), 1917". -- DJR]

page 281

by causing hesitation at a moment when the greatest firmness and steadfastness are essential.

    Thus, at yesterday's meeting of the Central Executive Committee, the Bolshevik group, with the direct participation of the Central Committee's minority members, openly voted against a decision of the Central Committee (on the number and persons of the representatives of our Party in the government). This unparalleled violation of discipline, committed by Central Committee member's behind the back of the Central Committee after many hours' discussions on the Central Committee, discussions provoked by these same members of the opposition, makes it obvious to us that the opposition intend to force the hand of Party institutions by sabotaging the Party's work at a moment when the fate of the Party, the fate of the revolution, depends upon the immediate result of this work.

    We cannot and do not wish to bear responsibility for such a state of affairs.

    Addressing the present statement to the minority of the Central Committee, we categorically demand a written reply to the question: Does the minority undertake to submit to Party discipline and to carry out the policy formulated in Comrade Lenin's resolution which was adopted by the Central Committee?

    In the event of a negative or indefinite reply to this question we shall immediately place before the Petrograd Committee, the Moscow Committee, the Bolshevik group on the Central Executive Committee, the Petrograd City Conference and the Extraordinary Party Congress, the following alternative proposal:

    Either the Party must entrust the present opposition with the task of forming a new government in conjunction with those of its allies on whose behalf the opposition is at present sabotaging our work -- in which case we shall consider ourselves absolutely free in relation to this new government, which can contribute nothing but wavering, impotence and chaos.

    Or -- which we do not doubt -- the Party will endorse the only possible revolutionary line, as expressed in yesterday's decision of the Central Committee -- in which case the Party must categorically demand that the members of the oppo-

page 282

sition conduct their disorganising work outside our Party organisation. There is not and cannot be any other solution. It stands to reason, a split would be highly deplorable. But an honest and open split would now be incomparably better than internal sabotage, the thwarting of our own decisions, disorganisation and prostration. At any rate, we do not doubt for a moment that the submission of our differences (which are in the main a replica of our differences with the Novaya Zhizn and Martov groups) to the people's judgement will ensure our policy the unreserved and devoted support of the revolutionary workers, soldiers and peasants, and will very soon condemn the wavering opposition to impotent isolation.