Written: September 29 and October 4
(October 12 and 17), 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. 142-144
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
1. The participation of our Party in the Pre-parliament, in the Democratic Council, or in the Council of the Republic is an obvious error and a deviation from the proletarian revolutionary path.
2. The objective situation is such that a revolution against Kerensky’s Bonapartist government is undoubtedly fomenting in the country (peasant uprising, increasing dissatisfaction and conflicts with the government in the army and among non-Russian groups, conflict with railway and postal employees, the resounding defeat of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary conciliators at the elections, etc.).
At a time when there is such an upsurge of the revolution, to go to a sham parliament decked out to deceive the people is to facilitate this deception, make the preparation for the revolution more difficult, and distract the attention of the people and the forces of the Party from the urgent task of the struggle for power and for the overthrow of the government.
3. The Party congress, therefore, must recall Party members from the Pre-parliament, declare a boycott of it, appeal to the people to prepare forces for dispersing this “Bulygin Duma’ of Tsereteli’s.
1. All the six months’ work of the Bolsheviks in the revolution, all the criticism levelled by them against the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries for their “conciliationism’ and for their having turned the Soviets into talking-shops, demand on the part of the Bolsheviks a loyal adherence to this slogan in a straightforward Marxist way. Unfortunately, vacillations are to be noted at the top levels of our Party, a “fear’, as it were, of the struggle for power, a tendency to substitute resolutions, protests, and congresses for this struggle.
2. All the experience of both revolutions, that of 1905 and that of and that of 1917, and all the decisions of the Bolshevik Party, all its political declarations for many years, may be reduced to the concept that the Soviet of Workers; and Soldiers' Deputies is a reality only as an organ of insurrection, as an organ of revolutionary power. Apart from this, the Soviets are a meaningless plaything that can only produce apathy, indifference and disillusion among the masses, who are legitimately disgusted at the endless repetition of resolutions and protests.
3. Particularly today, when a peasant uprising is sweeping the country and is being suppressed by Kerensky with the aid of picked troops, when even the military measures in the rural areas constitute an obvious threat that the elections to the Constituent Assembly will be rigged, when even in Germany there has been a mutiny in the fleet, a refusal on the part of the Bolsheviks to transform the Soviets into organs of insurrection would be a betrayal both of the peasants and of the cause of the world socialist revolution.
4. The problem of the seizure of power by the Soviets is that of a successful uprising. That is why all the best forces of the Party must be sent to the factories and barracks to explain to the masses their task and, taking their mood correctly in account, choose the proper moment for overthrowing the Kerensky government.
To insist on connecting this task with the Congress of Soviets, to subordinate it to this Congress, means to be merely playing at insurrection by setting a definite date beforehand, by making it easier for the government to prepare troops, by confusing the masses with the illusion that a “resolution’ of the Congress of Soviets can solve a task which only the insurrectionary proletariat is capable of solving by force.
5. It is necessary to fight against constitutional illusions and hopes placed in the Congress of Soviets, to discard the preconceived idea that we absolutely must “wait’ for it, to concentrate all efforts on explaining to the masses the inevitability of an uprising, and on preparing it. With the Soviets of both capital cities in their hands the Bolsheviks would be reducing all their propaganda for the Power-to-the-Soviets slogan to empty phrases and, politically, would be covering themselves with shame as a party of the revolutionary proletariat if they refused to carry out this task, and if they became reconciled to the convocation of the Constituent Assembly (which means a faked Constituent Assembly) by the Kerensky government.
6. This is particularly true now, when the Moscow elections have given the Bolsheviks 49.5 per cent of the votes and when the Bolsheviks, with the support of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries,which has long existed in reality, have an undoubted majority in the country.
Not everything in the Theses on Power to the Soviets should be published, but it is tantamount to the Party’s losing its connections with the vanguard of the proletariat, if we refuse to discuss within the Party and to make clear to the masses those most urgent and important problems that cannot be discussed in the open due to the absence of full freedom of the press, or that cannot be brought out openly before the enemy.