V. I.   Lenin

Sketch of a Provisional Revolutionary Government

Written: Written in June-July 1905
Published: First published in 1926 in Lenin Miscellany V. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 534-536.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs and The Late Isidor Lasker
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.README

Setting: Tsarism in St. Petersburg struck down, the autocratic government overthrown—struck down but not utterly destroyed, not killed, not annihilated, not extirpated.

The provisional revolutionary government appeals to the people. Workers and peasants t a k e   t h e   i n i t i a t i v e. Complete freedom. The people organise their own lives. The government programme=full republican liberties, peasant committees for the complete reform of agrarian relations. The Programme of the Social-Democratic Party i s   a   t h i n g   s t a n d i n g   b y   i t s e l f. Social-Democrats in the provisional government =people delegated, c o m m i s s i o n e d by the Social-Democratic P a r t y.

Next— the Constituent Assembly. If the people have risen, they ...[1] may (even though not immediately) find themselves in the majority (peasants and workers). Ergo, the revolutionary d i c t a t o r s h i p of the proletariat and the peasantry.

Frantic resistance of evil forces. Civil war i n   f u l l   s w e e p—annihilation of tsarism.

Organisation of the proletariat grows, propaganda and agitation of the Social-Democrats increases ten thousandfold—all the government printing-presses, etc., etc. “Mit der Gründlichkeit der geschichtlichen Aktion wird auch der Umfang der Masse zunehmen, deren Aktion sie ist.”[2]

The peasantry takes all agrarian relations, all the land, into its own hands. T h e n   n a t i o n a l i s a t i o n becomes a fact.

Tremendous growth of productive forces—the entire rural intelligentsia, all technical knowledge, is brought into action to increase agricultural production, to get rid of fettering influences (uplifters, Narodniks, etc., etc.).... Gigantic development of capitalist progress....

War: the fort keeps changing hands. Either the bourgeoisie overthrows the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, or this dictatorship sets Europe aflame, and then...?

If we are to consider the question of revolutionary dictatorship from the standpoint of Marxism, we shall have to reduce it to an analysis of the struggle of the   c l a s s e s.

Ergo, what major social forces should be taken into account? Ordre de bataille?

(α) The bureaucratic, military, and Court elements stand for absolutism p l u s the unenlightened elements among the people (a rapidly disintegrating conglomerate, yesterday all-powerful, tomorrow powerless). (Dynastic and other conflicts within inevitable.)

Degree of organisation very high—maximum

(β) The more or less big, moderately-liberal bourgeoisie.

(( Here I include the liberal landlords, the top financiers, the merchants, manufacturers, etc., etc. This=σ lords and masters of a bourgeois country. “Can do anything”. ))

Degree of organisation very slight

Conflicts between the groupings inevitable; but all stand for a Constitution even now, and still more so tomorrow.

Ideological leaders—in abundance, from among the officials, landlords, and journalists.

(γ) The petty-bourgeois and peasant section. Tens of millions.

The “people” par excellence.

Degree of organisation —minimum

Greatest state of benightedness and disorganisation.

Their plight most desperate, they have most to gain directly from the revolution. The greatest instability (to day—for the revolution, tomorrow—for “law and order” after slight improvements).

D e m o c r a c y. Ideological leaders—a great number of democratic intellectuals. The Socialist-Revolutionary “type”.

(δ) The proletariat.

Very high level of organisation, and discipline

Revolutionary-minded. Critical attitude towards the petty bourgeoisie. Has fewer ideological leaders than all the others—only the Social-Democratic intelligentsia and the educated Social-Democratic workers. Compared with the preceding groups numerically very much weaker, but Kampffähigkeit[3] very much stronger.

Object of the struggle =Republic (including all democratic liberties, the m i n i m u m   p r o g r a m m e and far-reaching social reforms).

α—absolutely against.

β—for a Constitution, against the Republic (½ and ½). ((Bargaining.))

γ—in a revolutionary moment (not firmly) for the Republic ((the unstable elements of the struggle)).

δ—wholly and entirely for the Republic.


[1] One word illegible.—Ed.

[2] “As the thoroughness of the historic action increases, the magnitude of the mass whose cause it represents will also increase.”[4]Ed.

[3] Fighting capacity.—Ed.

[4] See Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Critique, Moscow, 1956, p. 410.

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