V. I.   Lenin

The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It


Complete Government Inactivity

There is a universal, systematic and persistent sabotage of every kind of control, supervision and accounting and of all state attempts to institute them. And one must be incredibly naæve not to understand, one must be an utter hypocrite to pretend not to understand, where this sabotage comes from and by what means it is being carried on. For this sabotage by the bankers and capitalists, their frustration of every kind of control, supervision and accounting, is being adapted to the state forms of a democratic republic, to the existence of “revolutionary-democratic” institutions. The capitalist gentlemen have learnt very well a fact which all supporters of scientific socialism profess to recognise but which the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries tried to forget as soon as their friends had secured cushy jobs as ministers, deputy ministers, etc. That fact is that the economic substance of capitalist exploitation is in no wise affected by the substitution of republican-democratic forms of government for monarchist forms, and that, consequently, the reverse is also true—only the form of the struggle for the inviolability and sanctity of capitalist profits need be changed in order to uphold them under a democratic republic as effectively as under an absolute monarchy.

The present, modern republican-democratic sabotage of every kind of control, accounting and supervision consists in the capitalists “eagerly” accepting in words the “principle” of control and the necessity for control (as, of course, do all Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries), insisting only that this control be introduced “gradually”, methodically and in a “state-regulated” way. In practice, how ever, these specious catchwords serve to conceal the frustration of control, its nullification, its reduction to a fiction, the mere playing at control, the delay of all business-like and practically effective measures, the creation of extraordinarily complicated, cumbersome and bureaucratically lifeless institutions of control which are hopelessly dependent on the capitalists, and which do absolutely nothing and cannot do anything.

So as not to trot out bald statements, let us cite witnesses from among the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries,   i.e., the very people who had the majority in the Soviets during the first six months of revolution, who took part in the "coalition government" and who are therefore politically responsible to the Russian workers and peasants for winking at the capitalists and allowing them to frustrate all control.

Izvestia TsIK (i.e., the newspaper of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies), the official organ of the highest of the so-called "fully authorised" (no joke!) bodies of “revolutionary” democracy, in issue No. 164, of September 7, 1917, printed a resolution by a special control organisation created and run by these very Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. This special institution is the Economic Department of the Central Executive Committee. Its resolution officially records as a fact "the complete inactivity of the central bodies set up under the government for the regulation of economic life".

Now, how could one imagine any more eloquent testimony to the collapse of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary policy than this statement signed by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries themselves?

The need for the regulation of economic life was already recognised under tsarism, and certain institutions were set up for the purpose. But under tsarism economic chaos steadily grew and reached monstrous proportions. It was at once recognised that it was the task of the republican, revolutionary government to adopt effective and resolute measures to put an end to the economic chaos. When the “coalition” government was formed with the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries participating, it promised and undertook, in its most solemn public declaration of May 6, to introduce state control and regulation. The Tseretelis and Chernovs, like all the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary leaders, vowed and swore that not only were they responsible for the government, but that the "authorised bodies of revolutionary democracy" under their control actually kept an eye on the work of the government and verified its activities.

Four months have passed since May 6, four long months, in which Russia has sacrificed the lives of hundreds of   thousands of soldiers for the sake of the absurd imperialist “offensive”, in which chaos and disaster have been advancing in seven-league strides, in which the summer season afforded an exceptional opportunity to do a great deal in the matter of water transport, agriculture, prospecting for minerals, and so on and so forth—and after four months the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries have been obliged officially to admit the "complete inactivity" of the control institutions set up under the government!!

And these Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, with the serious mien of statesmen, now prate (I am writing this on the very eve of the Democratic Conference of September 12[1]) that matters can be furthered by replacing the coalition with the Cadets by a coalition with commercial and industrial Kit Kityches,[2] the Ryabushinskys, Bublikovs, Tereshchenkos and Co.

How, one may ask, are we to explain this astonishing blindness of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries? Are we to regard them as political babes in the wood who in their extreme foolishness and naæveté do not realise what they are doing and err in good faith? Or does the abundance of posts they occupy as ministers, deputy ministers, governors-general, commissars and the like have the property of engendering a special kind of “political” blindness?


[1] The All-Russia Democratic Conference was held in Petrograd between September 14 and 22 (September 27–October 5), 1917. It was called by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries to stem the rising tide of the revolution. The delegates represented petty-bourgeois parties, the compromising Soviets, the trade unions, Zemstvos, commercial and industrial circles, and troop units. The Bolsheviks attended with the aim of exposing the designs of the Mensheviks and S.R.s. The conference elected a pre-parliament (Provisional Council of the Republic) through which the Mensheviks and S.R.s hoped to check the revolution and divert the country on to the track of a bourgeois parliamentary system.

On Lenin’s proposal, the Central Committee of the Party decided that the Bolsheviks should withdraw from the pre-parliament. Only the capitulators Kamenev, Rykov and Ryazanov, who were against the Party’s course for the socialist revolution, insisted on participation in the pre-parliament. The Bolsheviks exposed the treacherous activity of the pre-parliament as they trained the people for an armed uprising.

[2] Kit Kitych (literally, Whale Whaleson)—nickname of Tit Titych, a rich merchant in Alexander Ostrovsky’s comedy Shouldering Another’s Troubles. Lenin applies the nickname to capitalist tycoons.

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