V. I.   Lenin

How the Capitalists Are Trying to Scare the People

Published: Pravda No. 61, June 1 (May 19), 1917. Published according to the text in Pravda.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 24, pages 439-440.
Translated: Isaacs Bernard
Transcription\Markup: B. Baggins and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 1999 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

In an editorial on May 17 Finansovaya Gazeta writes:

The political upheaval, which everyone looked forward to, is assuming the form of a social revolution without precedent anywhere. The ’class struggle’, which is a legitimate and natural thing in a free country, has taken on with us the character of a class war. A financial crash is imminent. An industrial crash is unavoidable.

To effect a political revolution it was enough to make Nicholas II abdicate the throne and to arrest a dozen of his ministers. That was easily done in a single day. To effect a social revolution, however, tens of millions of citizens must be made to abdicate their property rights and all non-socialists must be arrested. This cannot be done in scores of years.”

That is untrue, worthy fellow-citizens. It is a glaring lie! You choose to call control over industry by the workers “social revolution”. In doing so you are committing three monstrous errors.

First, the revolution of February 27 was also a social revolution. Every political upheaval, if it is not a mere change of cliques, is a social revolution. The thing is—what class makes that social revolution. The revolution of February 27, 1917 took the power from the feudal landowners headed by Nicholas II and gave it to the bourgeoisie. It was a social revolution of the bourgeoisie.

By the use of clumsy unscientific terminology which confuses “social” with “socialist” revolution, Finansovaya Gazeta tries to conceal from the people the obvious fact that the workers and peasants cannot content themselves with seizure of power by the bourgeoisie.

By trying to ignore this clear and simple fact the capitalists are deceiving themselves and the people.

Secondly, “without precedent anywhere” is also applicable to the great imperialist war of 1914–17. Such a debacle, such bloody horrors, such a disaster, and such a break-down of our   entire civilisation are “without precedent anywhere”. It is not anybody’s impatience, not anybody’s propaganda, but objective conditions and this unprecedented break-down of civilisation that necessitate this control over production and distribution, over the banks, factories, etc.

Failing this, tens of millions of people can be said without exaggeration to face inevitable ruin and death.

In view of the freedom created by the “political upheaval” of February 27, in view of the existence of the Soviets, such control is impossible unless the workers and peasants unite, unless the minority of the population bows to the majority. Nothing can alter this, protest as you may.

Third, and most important of all—even for the purpose of a socialist revolution there is no need at all for “tens of millions of citizens to abdicate their property rights”. Not even socialism (and control over the banks and factories does not yet mean socialism) requires anything of the kind.

This is an infamous defamation on socialism. No socialist has ever proposed that the “tens of millions”, i.e., the small and middle peasants, should be deprived of their property (=“made to abdicate their property rights”).

Nothing of the kind!

Socialists everywhere have always denied such nonsense.

Socialists are out to make only the landowners and capitalists “abdicate”. To deal a decisive blow at those who are defying the people the way the colliery owners are doing when they disrupt and ruin production, it is sufficient to make a few hundred, at the most one or two thousand, millionaires, bank and industrial and commercial bosses, “abdicate” their property rights.

This would be quite enough to break the resistance of capital. Even this tiny group of wealthy people need not have all their property rights taken away from them; they could be allowed to keep many possessions in the way of consumption articles and ownership of a certain modest income.

The question at issue is merely that of breaking down the resistance of a few hundred millionaires. Only in this way can disaster be averted.


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