V. I. Lenin

Report on the Results of the
Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) at a Meeting of the Petrograd Organisation

May 8 (21), 1917{1}

Published: First published in 1927 in Zapiski Instituta Lenina (Transactions of the Lenin Institute), Vol. I. Printed from the Zapiski text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 431-433.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Comrade Lenin begins by saying that the conference met at an extraordinary time: there is now a revolution in Russia and an unprecedented war all over the world.

Consequently, if we are to understand the decisions of our conference we must first of all understand the kind of war we are waging and who began it, what kind of revolution we have carried out and the kind of revolution that lies ahead of us.

The war was not started by the workers and peasants: neither the Russian, the German, the French, the Italian the Belgian, nor the British workers and peasants started this war. The war was started and is being continued by the capitalists of the world: the British capitalists and their friends, the French, the Russian and the Italian capitalists, against the German capitalists and their friends, the Austrian capitalists.

What is this war being fought for?

Is it being fought for the emancipation or for the interests of the workers and peasants? No, it is not.

The purpose of the war is plunder and a division of foreign lands—that is what makes the capitalists shout about the war to a victorious end.

Tsar Nicholas, as big a brigand as Wilhelm, concluded secret predatory treaties with the British and French capitalists; these treaties are not being published as otherwise the whole people would realise the fraud, and the war would quickly be over. That is why our resolution on the war flatly calls this war a predatory imperialist war.

How, then, can an end be put to this world-wide slaughter? Can it be ended by someone pulling out of it?

No, it cannot. It cannot because the war is being fought not by two states but by many, and because the capitalists can end the war only for a time in order to prepare for a new one. That is the kind of peace no worker or peasant wants,   whoever he may be, a German, a Frenchman or a Russian.

Who, then, can end the war?

The war can be ended only by the workers and peasants, not of Russia alone, but of the whole world. The workers and peasants of the world have the same interests: struggle against the capitalists and the landowners. That is why, only by uniting, the workers and peasants of the world can put an end to this war. That is why we Bolsheviks are against a separate peace, i.e., against a peace only between Russia and Germany. A separate peace is a stupidity, because it fails to settle the basic issue, the struggle against the capitalists and the landowners.

How, then, are the workers and peasants of the whole world to unite? The war is in their way.

The Russian revolution has toppled the autocracy and has given the Russian people unprecedented freedom, which is unmatched among any people of the world. But has it settled the basic question of Russian life, the question of land? No, because the land is still in the hands of the land owners. Why is that so? Because the people who overthrew the tsar handed over power not only into the hands of their elected representatives—peasants and workers, the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, but also into the hands of the Provisional Government.

The Provisional Government, let us note, consists of capitalists, landowners and those who sincerely or hypocritically say that Russia can be saved only hand in hand with the landowners.

But the landowners refuse to give land to the peasants, the capitalists refuse to give up their profits from the war and the plunder of foreign lands.

That is why we Bolsheviks do not support the Provisional Government, and do not advise socialists to take ministerial office.

Socialist ministers can do no more than lend their names to cover up plunder and conquest. And they are already doing so. They have entered the government and have joined the capitalists in saying: this war is not only a defensive, but also an offensive one, and the peasants will not get their land now, but after the convocation of the Constituent Assembly.

That is why we are against the Provisional Government and recognise only our own government: the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. There is no better government, the people have not yet created one, and you can’t invent one.

Why, in that case, has this government of ours decided to give support to the Provisional Government consisting of capitalists, landowners and socialists, who do not want to give land to the people now and preach an offensive? Because we now have in the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies a majority of peasant-soldiers who do not understand what each of the parties wants in practice.

Hence, our task is patiently to explain to the workers and peasants that everything—the end of the war, land for the peasants, and real struggle against the capitalists, not in words, but in deeds—will be secured only when the whole people comes to realise not from books, but from its own experience that only full power for the workers and peasants, only the power of the Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies can help to start a resolute struggle for peace, for land and for socialism.

You cannot disregard the people. Only dreamers and plotters believed that a minority could impose their will on a majority. That was what the French revolutionary Blanqui thought, and he was wrong. When the majority of the people refuse, because they do not yet understand, to take power into their own hands, the minority, however revolutionary and clever, cannot impose their desire on the majority of the people.

From this flow our actions.

We Bolsheviks must patiently and perseveringly explain our views to the workers and peasants. Each of us must forget our old view of our work, each, without waiting for the arrival of an agitator, a propagandist, a more knowledgeable comrade who will explain everything—each of us must become all in one: agitator, propagandist and Party organiser.

That is the only way we can get the people to understand our doctrine, to think over their experience and really take power into their own hands.


{1} This is a short record of Lenin’s report about the results of the Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) at a city meeting of the Petrograd Party organisation held at the Naval Cadet Corps building and attended by 5,000–6,000 Party members. It was made by V. I. Nevsky and was to be published in the papers, but was not. The report was first published in 1927 in the first book of Zapiski Instituta Lenina (Transactions of the Lenin Institute). p. 431

Works Index   |   Volume 41 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index
< backward   forward >