Delivered: 2(15) December, 1917
First Published: Izvestia, No. 244, December 6, 1917; Published according the typewritten copy of the Minutes.
Source: Lenin's Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 357-360
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription & HTML Markup: Charles Farrell and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive December, 2000
Comrades, at the last Extraordinary Congress of Peasants’ Deputies I spoke as a member of the Bolshevik group and not as a member of the Council of People’s Commissars, I am speaking in the same capacity today, for I consider it important that the opinion of the Party of the Bolsheviks should be known to this Congress of Peasants’ Deputies.
When I arrived here I heard part of the speech of the last speaker, who, turning to me, told you that I wanted to disperse you at the point of the bayonet. Comrades, Russia has grown too mature to suffer anyone to rule her. You know that from the moment the army turned their weapons to win freedom, from the moment it became possible for the peasant in uniform to meet and arrange matters with the peasant not in uniform, from that moment there has been no fcre,e that can break the will of the people, the will of the peasants and workers.
Comrades, I want to tell you how we understand the Revolution of October 25. Comrades, it has been said here that a new wave of revolution may sweep the Soviets away. I say “No”. I am firmly convinced that the Soviets will never perish; the Revolution of October 25 proved that. The Soviets will never perish, for they were formed as far back as the first revolution of 1905; they were formed after the February revolution, and they were not formed on the initiative of any individual, but from below, by the will of the masses. There can be no restrictions and no red tape, for they have been formed by the will of the people, and the people are free to recall their representatives at any moment. The Soviets are superior to any parliament, they are superior to any constituent assembly, (Commotion and cries: That’s a lie!) The Party of the Bolsheviks has always declared that the supreme body is the Soviets. That cannot be called a lie, because the revolutioris in Europe that overthrew monarchies formed bourgeois republics with the help of constituent assemblies, There has never before been a revolution such as ours anywhere in the world, It is said that the Revolution of October 25 created only “a Bolshevik government”. I might say that there are not only Bolsheviks in the Council of People’s COMhnissars. Those of you who remember the First Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies will know that the Bolsheviks were then in the minority; but, having learned the meaning of the policy of compromise from experience, the Second Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, whieh represented the people, gave a majority to the Bolshevik Party. When they tell me that bayonets may be directed against the Soviets and shout it from the columns of the hostile press, I simply laugh. The bayonets are in the hands of the workers, the soldiers and the peasants, and as long as they are they will never be directed against the Soviets. Let the counter-revolution turn its bayonets on the Soviets, it will not scare them.
Passing to the question of the Constituent Assembly, I must say that the Constituent Assembly can help only if the people themselves are free to develop and build up a new life. And I ask you: Is that the case?
I am telling you what you all know: “The sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath”, Comrades, you know how the Constituent Assembly was elected. It was elected by one of the most progressive election methods, for it is not individuals who were elected, but representatives of parties. This is a step forward, for revolutions are made by parties and not by individuals. When the elections to the Constituent Assembly took place there was only oiie party of Socialist-Revolutionaries, the party which has the majority in the Constituent Assembly. But that is not the case now. You will perhaps say that the Bolsheviks also breught that about, Ne, cornrades, that is a universal law, Always and everywhere, the people are slowly and painfully dividing into two camps-that ef the dispossessed and downtrodden, of those who are fighting for a brighter future for all working people, and that of those who in one way or another support the landowriers and capitalists, When the elections took place the peeple did not elect those who expressed their will and their desires, You say that we have declared the whele Cadet Party enemies ef the people, Yes, we have. And thereby we expressed the will of the Second Cejigress of Seviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, And now that we are on the threshold of peace and the cessation ef the terrible slaughter that has lasted three years, we are cenvinced that this is the demand ef all the working people in all eountries, The everthrew of imperialism in Europe is proceeding slowly and paiiiftilly, and imperialists in all countries will now see that the people are strong, and in their strength will overthrow all whe stand in their way. We shall not be deterred when people who are organising revolt against the workers and peasants, against the Soviets, with the other hand show u their credentials to the Constituent Assembly, In July we were told that we sheuld be proclaimed enemies of the people, And we answered, “Try it”. If the bourgeeis gentlemen and their fellowers had enly tried to say that to the peeple epenly! But they did not; they reserted to insinuation, slander and mud-slinging When the bourgeoisie began the civil war (we witiiessed it), they incited the efficer cadets te revolt, And we, the victors, were merciful to them, the vanquished. More than that, we even spared their military honour, And now, when the Constituent Assembly is being cenvened, we say: W shall open the Constituent Assembly as seon as four hundre of its members arrive, We see that the conspiracy of th Cadets is continuing, we see that they are organising revolt against the Soviets in the interests of the money-bags of greed and riches, and we publicly proclaim them enemie of the people, At a time when the terms of peace will shortl be known, when we are about to have an armistice, when th members of the land committees will be immune from arrest when the landed estates are being confiscated, and wlhe control will be established over the factories-at such a time they are conspiring against us, against the Soviets. We therefore declare that the party of the Cadets is a party of the bourgeoisie, that they are enemies of the people, and that we shall fight them.