V. I.   Lenin

Speech on the Cancellation of the Demonstration, Delivered at a Meeting of the Petrograd Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.), June 11 (24), 1917

Published: First published in 1923, in Krasnaya Letopis No. 9. Published according to the minutes of the meetings of the Petrograd Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.), 1917.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 79-81.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The dissatisfaction voiced by most comrades over the cancellation of the demonstration is quite natural, but the Central Committee had no alternative for two reasons: first, we were formally banned from holding the demonstration by the semi-organ of power; secondly, the motive for the ban was stated as follows: "We know that concealed forces of the counter-revolution want to take advantage of your demonstration." In support of this motive, we were given names, such as that of a general, whom they promised to arrest within three days, and others. And they declared that a demonstration of the Black Hundreds[1] had been arranged for June 10 with the intention of breaking into our demonstration and turning it into a skirmish.

Even in ordinary warfare, it sometimes happens that a planned offensive has to be cancelled for strategic reasons. This is all the more likely to occur in class warfare, depending on the vacillation of the middle, petty-bourgeois groups. We must be able to take account of the situation and be bold in adopting decisions.

The cancellation was absolutely necessary, as subsequent developments proved. Today Tsereteli has delivered his historical and hysterical speech.[2] Today the revolution has entered a new phase of its development. They began by banning our peaceful demonstration for three days, and now they want to ban it for the entire duration of the Congress. They   demand that we obey the decision of the Congress under threat of expulsion from the Congress. But we have declared that we prefer arrest rather than renounce freedom of propaganda.

Tsereteli, whose speech showed him up as a blatant counter-revolutionary, declared that the Bolsheviks must not be fought by words and resolutions, but must be deprived of all the technical means they have at their disposal. The result of all bourgeois revolutions is: first arm the proletariat and then disarm it to prevent it from going any further. The fact that a peaceful demonstration had to be banned shows that the situation must be very serious.

Tsereteli, who emerged from the depths of the Provisional Government to attend the Congress, clearly expressed a desire to disarm the workers. He was savagely furious in demanding that the Bolshevik Party be ousted from the ranks of the revolutionary democrats. The workers must clearly realise that there can now be no question of a peaceful demonstration. The situation is far more serious than we thought. We were going to hold a peaceful demonstration in order to exercise maximum pressure on the decisions of the Congress—that is our right—but we are accused of hatching a plot to arrest the government.

Tsereteli says that there are no counter-revolutionaries apart from the Bolsheviks. The meeting that passed judgment on us was organised with particular solemnity. It consisted of the Congress Steering Committee, the Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies in full force and the bureaus of the groups of all the parties attending the Congress. At that meeting they blurted out the whole truth, namely, that they are calling an offensive against us.

The proletariat must reply by showing the maximum calmness, caution, restraint and organisation, and must remember that peaceful processions are a thing of the past.

We must give them no pretext for attack. Let them attack, and the workers will realise that it is an attack on the very existence of the proletariat. But reality is on our side, and it is a moot point whether their attack will succeed—at the front there are the troops, among whom discontent is   very strong, and in the rear there is the high cost of living, economic dislocation and so on.

The Central Committee does not want to force your decision. Your right, the right to protest against the actions of the Central Committee, is a legitimate one, and your decision must be a free one.


[1] Black Hundreds—monarchist bands formed by the tsarist police to fight the revolutionary movement. They assassinated revolutionaries, attacked progressive intellectuals and carried out anti-Jewish pogroms.

[2] Reference is to the speech made by the Menshevik Tsereteli, member of the Provisional Government, on June 11 (24), 1917, at the joint meeting of the Steering Committee of the First All-Russia Congress of Soviets, the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, the Executive Committee of the Congress of Peasants’ Deputies, and the bureaus of all Congress parties. The meeting was arranged by the S.R. and Menshevik leaders to strike a blow at the Bolshevik Party, taking advantage of the majority they commanded. In his speech, which ho hold in a hysterical key, Tsereteli said the demonstration which the Bolsheviks had scheduled for June 10 (23) was “a Bolshevik conspiracy to overthrow the government and seize power”. The speech was slanderous and counter-revolutionary throughout. The Bolsheviks left the meeting in protest against the slanders spread by

Tsereteli and other S.R. and Menshevik loaders. Lenin, who had been against the meeting from the outset, did not attend.

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