First published in Pravda No. 96, July 14 (1), 1917.
Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 151-152.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Mr. N. Rostov quotes in the ministerial Rabochaya Gazeta several excerpts from soldiers’ letters which attest to the extreme ignorance of the peasants. The author, according to his own words, has at his disposal a bulky batch of letters sent to the Agitation Department of the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies from every part of the country. He says that all the letters clamour for one and the same thing: Papers, send us papers!
The Menshevik writer suddenly exclaims in alarm: “If the revolution does not get through to them [the peasants] as a clear fact of great usefulness, they will rise against the revolution....” The peasants are “as ignorant as ever”.
The Menshevik and ministerial official was a bit late in becoming alarmed over his batch of letters. More than seven weeks have passed since May 6, when the Mensheviks began to serve the capitalists, and in all this time bourgeois counter-revolutionary lies and slander against the revolution have been pouring freely into the countryside through the bourgeois papers, which have become dominant, through the direct and indirect servants and supporters of the capitalist government backed by the Mensheviks.
If the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries had not been betraying the revolution and supporting the counter revolutionary Cadets, power would have been in the hands of the Executive Committee since early May. The Executive Committee could immediately have established a state monopoly over private advertising in the press, and could thus have obtained tens of millions of newspaper copies for free distribution in the countryside. The large printing presses and stocks of newsprint would have been used by the Executive Committee to enlighten the peasants and not to befog them through a dozen or so bourgeois, counter-revolutionary newspapers which have virtually seized the key role in the newspaper business.
The Executive Committee could then have disbanded the Duma, and, having saved the people’s money on this—not to speak of many other things—it could have spent that money on sending a thousand agitators, or even thousands of them, to the countryside.
In times of revolution, procrastination is often equivalent to a complete betrayal of the revolution. Responsibility for the delay in the transfer of power to the workers, soldiers and peasants, for the delay in carrying through revolutionary measures to enlighten the ignorant peasants, rests wholly on the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.
They have betrayed the revolution on this matter. They bear the blame for the fact that the workers and soldiers are forced to limit themselves to primitive means in the fight against the counter-revolutionary bourgeois press and agitation, whereas they could and should have had nation-wide means for the purpose.