First published in Proletarskoye Dyelo No. 5, August 1 (July 19), 1917.
Published according to the text in Proletarskoye Dyelo.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 193-195.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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In a farewell talk to members of the Committee of Journalists under the Provisional Government, Prince G. Y. Lvov, former head of the Provisional Government, made some valuable admissions for which the workers will certainly be grateful.
“What strengthens my optimism above all else,” Lvov said. “are the events of the past few days inside the country. I am convinced that our ’deep breach’ in the Lenin front is incomparably more significant for Russia than the German breach in our South-Western Front.”
How can the workers not be grateful to the prince for this sober appraisal of the class struggle? They will be more than grateful, they will take a lesson from Lvov.
What an endless flow of fine words and infinite hypocrisy all the bourgeois people and landowners, as well as the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks trailing after them, pour out while orating against “civil war”! But look at Prince Lvov’s valuable admission and you will see that he very calmly appraises Russia’s internal situation from the point of view of civil war. What the paltry truth of the prince’s admissions amounts to is that the bourgeoisie, which head the counter-revolution, have made a deep breach in the revolutionary workers’ front. Two enemies, two hostile camps, and one has made a breach in the front of the other—this is how Prince Lvov sums up Russia’s internal situation. Let us, then, give Prince Lvov our heartfelt thanks for his frankness! After all, he is a thousand times more correct than those sentimental Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik philistines who imagine that the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, which inevitably becomes exceedingly aggravated during a revolution, is likely to disappear because of their curses and magic spells!
Two enemies, two hostile camps, and one has made a breach in the front of the other—this is Prince Lvov’s correct philosophy of history. He is right in practically discounting the third camp, the petty bourgeoisie, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. This third camp appears to be big, but, in fact, it cannot decide anything independently. That is clear to the sober-minded prince, just as it is clear to every Marxist who understands the economic position of the petty bourgeoisie, and as it is clear, lastly, to anyone who thinks about the lessons of the revolution’s history, which have always revealed the impotence of the petty-bourgeois parties whenever the struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat became acute.
Even in war-time, the internal class struggle is far more Important than the struggle against the foreign enemy. What savage abuse the big and petty bourgeoisie have hurled at the Bolsheviks for recognising this truth! What efforts to deny it have been made by the numerous lovers of alluring words about “unity”, “revolutionary democracy”, and so on, and so forth!
But when a serious and decisive moment came, Prince Lvov at once fully admitted this truth, openly declaring that a “victory” over the class enemy at home was more important than the position in the struggle against the foreign enemy. An incontestable truth. A useful truth. The workers will be very grateful to Prince Lvov for admitting it, for reminding them of it, for spreading it around. And to express their gratitude to the prince, the workers will use their Party to see that the greatest number of working and exploited people understand and assimilate this truth as well as possible. Nothing is more useful to the working class in the struggle for emancipation than this truth.
What is this “breach” in the civil war front which Prince Lvov is so triumphant about? This question must be dealt with very carefully if the workers are to learn well from Lvov.
The “breach in the front” of the internal war on this occasion came, firstly, from the fact that the bourgeoisie had poured oceans of filth and slander on their class enemies, the Bolsheviks, and had shown exceptional tenacity in this really infamous and vile business of slandering their political opponents. It was the “ideological preparation”, if we may call it that, for the “breach in the front of the class struggle”.
Secondly, the material and really essential “breach” came from the arrest and outlawing of people of hostile political trends, from the murder of some of them in the street without trial (Voinov was murdered on July 6 for carrying publications out of the Pravda printers’), from the closing down of their newspapers and the disarming of the workers and revolutionary soldiers.
This is what the “breach in the front of the war against the class enemy” means. Let the workers think this over well so as to be able to apply it to the bourgeoisie when the time is ripe.
The proletariat will never resort to slander. They will close down the bourgeoisie’s newspapers after openly declaring by law, by government decree, that the capitalists and their defenders are enemies of the people. The bourgeoisie, in the shape of our enemy, the government, and the petty bourgeoisie, in the shape of the Soviets, are afraid to say a single open and frank word about the ban on Pravda, about the reason for closing it down. The proletariat will tell the truth instead of resorting to slander. They will tell the peasants and everyone else the truth about the bourgeois newspapers and why they must be closed down.
Unlike the petty-bourgeois—Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik—windbags, the proletariat will know very well what is actually meant by a “breach in the front” of the class struggle and by making the enemy, the exploiters, harmless. Prince Lvov has helped the workers realise this truth. Thank you, Prince Lvov.