First published in Pravda No. 86, July 3 (June 20), 1917.
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 110-112.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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In one way or another, June 18 will go down as a turning-point in the history of the Russian revolution.
The mutual position of the classes, their correlation in the struggle against each other, their strength, particularly in comparison with the strength of the parties, were all revealed so distinctly, so strikingly, so impressively by last Sunday’s demonstration that, whatever the course and pace of further development, the gain in political awareness and clarity has been tremendous.
The demonstration in a few hours scattered to the winds, like a handful of dust, the empty talk about Bolshevik conspirators and showed with the utmost clarity that the vanguard of the working people of Russia, the industrial proletariat of the capital, and the overwhelming majority of the troops support slogans that our Party has always advocated.
The measured step of the battalions of workers and soldiers. Nearly half a million demonstrators. A concerted onslaught. Unity around the slogans, among which overwhelmingly predominated: “All power to the Soviets”, “Down with the ten capitalist Ministers”, “Neither a separate peace treaty with the Germans nor secret treaties with the Anglo-French capitalists”, etc. No one who saw the demonstration has any doubt left about the victory of these slogans among the organised vanguard of Russia’s workers and soldiers.
The demonstration of June 18 was a demonstration of the strength and policy of the revolutionary proletariat, which is showing the direction for the revolution and indicating the way out of the impasse. This is the tremendous historical significance of last Sunday’s demonstration, and its essential difference from the demonstrations during the funeral of the victims of the revolution and on May Day. Then it was a universal tribute to the revolution’s first victory and to its heroes. The people looked back over the first stage of the road to freedom, which they had passed very rapidly and very successfully. May Day was a holiday of hopes and aspirations linked with the history of the world labour movement and with its ideal of peace and socialism.
Neither of the two demonstrations was intended to point the direction for the revolution’s further development, nor could it do so. Neither demonstration put before the people, or raised in the name of the people, specific, definite and urgent questions as to how and in what direction the revolution should proceed.
In this sense, June 18 was the first political demonstration of action, an explanation of how the various classes act, how they want to and will act, in order to further the revolution—an explanation not given in a book or newspaper, but on the streets, not through leaders, but through the people.
The bourgeoisie kept out of the way. They refused to participate in that peaceful demonstration of a dear majority of the people, in which there was freedom of party slogans, and the chief aim of which was to protest against counter revolution. That is natural. The bourgeoisie are the counter-revolution. They hide from the people. They organise real counter-revolutionary conspiracies against the people. The parties now ruling Russia, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, clearly showed themselves on that historic day, June 18, as waverers. Their slogans spoke of wavering, and it was obvious to all that the supporters of their slogans were in a minority. By their slogans and wavering they advised the people to remain where they were, to leave everything unchanged for the time being. And the people felt, and they themselves felt, that that was impossible.
Enough of wavering, said the vanguard of the proletariat, the vanguard of Russia’s workers and soldiers. Enough of wavering. The policy of trust in the capitalists, in their government, in their vain attempts at reform, in their war, in their policy of an offensive, is a hopeless policy. Its collapse is imminent. Its collapse is inevitable. And that collapse will also be the collapse of the ruling parties, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks. Economic disruption is coming nearer. There is no escaping it except by the revolutionary measures of the revolutionary class which has taken power.
Let the people break with the policy of trust in the capitalists. Let them put their trust in the revolutionary class—the proletariat. The source of power lies in it and only in it, It alone is the pledge that the interests of the majority will be served, the interests of the working and exploited people, who, though held down by war an capital, are capable of defeating war and capital!
A crisis of unprecedented scale has descended upon Russia and the whole of humanity. The only way out is to put trust in the most organised and advanced contingent of the working and exploited people, and support its policy.
We do not know whether the people will grasp this lesson soon or how they will put it into effect. But we do know for certain that apart from this lesson there is no way out of the impasse, that possible waverings or brutalities on the part of the counter-revolutionaries will lead nowhere.
There is no way out unless the masses put complete confidence in their leader, the proletariat.