V. I. Lenin

Letter to the Central Committee, The Moscow And Petrograd Committees and the Bolshevik Members of the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets

Written: October 1 (14), 1917
First Published: 1921 in N. Lenin, Works, Volume XIV, Part 2. Published according to a typewritten copy
Source:Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 140-141
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov and George Hanna, Edited by George Hanna
Transcription & HTML Markup: Charles Farrell and David Walters
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive November, 2000


Dear Comrades,

Events are prescribing our task so clearly for us that procrastination is becoming positively criminal.

The peasant movement is developing. The government is intensifying its severe repressive measures. Sympathy for us is growing in the army (99 per cent of the soldiers' votes were cast for us in Moscow, the army in Finland and the fleet are against the government, and there is Dubasov's evidence about the front in general).

In Germany the beginning of a revolution is obvious, especially since the sailors were shot. The elections in Moscow—47 per cent Bolsheviks—are a tremendous victory. Together with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries we have an obvious majority in the country.

The railway and postal employees are in conflict with the government. Instead of calling the Congress for October 20, the Lieberdans are already talking of calling it at the end of October, etc., etc.

Under such circumstances to “wait” would be a crime.

The Bolsheviks have no right to wait for the Congress of Soviets, they must take power at once. By so doing they will save the world revolution (for otherwise there is danger of a deal between the imperialists of all countries, who, after the shootings in Germany, will be more accommodating to each other and will unite against us), the Russian revolution (otherwise a wave of real anarchy may become stronger than we are) and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at the front.

Delay is criminal. To wait for the Congress of Soviets would be a childish game of formalities, a disgraceful game of formalities, and a betrayal of the revolution.

If power cannot be achieved without insurrection, we must resort to insurrection at once. It may very well be that right now power can be achieved without insurrection, for example, if the Moscow Soviet were to take power at once, immediately, and proclaim itself (together with the Petrograd Soviet) the government. Victory in Moscow is guaranteed, and there is no need to fight. Petrograd can wait. The government cannot do anything to save itself; it will surrender.

For, by seizing power and taking over the banks, the factories and Russkoye Slovo, the Moscow Soviet would secure a tremendous basis and tremendous strength, it would be able to campaign throughout Russia and raise the issue thus: we shall propose peace tomorrow if the Bonapartist Kerensky surrenders (and if he does not, we shall overthrow him). We shall hand over the land to the peasants at once, we shall make concessions to the railway and postal employees at once, and so on.

It is not necessary to “begin” with Petrograd. If Moscow “begins” without any blood being shed, it will certainly be supported by (1) the army at the front by its sympathy, (2) the peasants everywhere and (3) the fleet and the. troops in Finland, which will proceed to Petrograd.

Even if Kerensky has a corps or two of mounted troops near Petrograd, he will be obliged to surrender. The Petrograd Soviet can wait and campaign for the Moscow Soviet Government. The slogan is: Power to the Soviets, Land to the Peasants, Peace to the Nations, Bread to the Starving!

Victory is certain, and the chances are ten to one that it will be a bloodless victory.

To wait would be a crime to the revolution.

Greetings, N. Lenin