Written: 29 October, 1917
First Published: 13 November in Pravda No. 13.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 270-273, from the Pravda text.
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
The political situation does not warrant long speeches. The political question is now merging with the military question. It is all too clear that Kerensky has recruited the Kornilovites, and they are his only support. In Moscow they have seized the Kremlin, but they have no control over the suburbs, where the workers and the poor in general live. There is no one to back Kerensky at the front. Even those who are of two minds, like the members of the Railwaymen's Union, are speaking in favour of the Decrees on Peace and on Land.
The vast majority of workers, soldiers and peasants want a policy of peace.
This is not a Bolshevik policy. In no sense is it a "party" policy. It is the policy of the workers, soldiers and peasants, that is, the majority of the people. Nor are we implementing a Bolshevik programme on the land question, because there, too, our programme has been taken bodily from peasant mandates.
It is not our fault that the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks have gone. They were invited to share political power, but they want to sit on the fence until the fight against Kerensky is over.
We asked everyone to take part in the government. The Left Socialist-Revolutionaries said they wanted to support the Soviet Government's policy. They did not even dare voice disagreement with the new government's programme.
People in the provinces give credence to papers like Dyelo Naroda. Here everyone knows that the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks went because they were left in a minority. The men of the Petrograd garrison are aware of this. They know that we wanted a coalition Soviet government. We did not exclude anyone from the Soviet. If they do not want to work with us, so much the worse for them. The mass of soldiers and peasants will not follow the Mensheviks or the Socialist-Revolutionaries. I am sure that nine-tenths of any workers' or soldiers' meeting will be on our side.
Kerensky's bid is just as pathetic a gamble as Kornilov's. But the situation is a difficult one. Vigorous efforts must be made to get some order into the food situation, and put an end to the misery at the fronts. We cannot wait, nor can we tolerate Kerensky's mutiny a single day. If the Kornilovites launch another offensive, they will get what the mutinous officer cadets got today. The cadets have only themselves to blame. We took power almost without bloodshed. If there were any losses they were on our side. The entire people wanted the policy the new government is conducting. It did not borrow this policy from the Bolsheviks, but from the soldiers at the front, the peasants in the villages, and the workers in the towns.
The Decree on Workers' Control is to be issued presently. Let me say this again; the political situation is now reduced to a military one. We cannot allow Kerensky to win; if he did there would be no peace, no land, and no freedom. I am sure that the soldiers and workers of Petrograd, who have just brought off a victorious revolution, will be able to crush the Kornilovites. We have had our defects. There is no use denying it. We have had to pay for them. But they can be eliminated. Without losing a single hour, a single minute, we must get organised, and set up a headquarters, and we must do it today. Once organised, we are sure to win out within a few days, and possibly even earlier.
The government set up by the will of the workers', soldiers' and peasants' deputies will not tolerate any nonsense from the Kornilovites.
The political and the military task is to set up a headquarters, to concentrate the material forces, and to provide the soldiers with all they need. If we are to go on from strength to strength, this must be done without wasting a single hour, nay, minute.
The period of great chaos is at an end. A chief of staff has been appointed and this will be announced. The period of vacillation is over. We felt keenly the lack of military order and communications. It has now been established that there is a great deal of enthusiasm and unity among the troops. It is now up to you to take things in hand, personally verify every act, the execution of your orders and assignments, see whether the workers' organisations have been contacted, etc. The workers will help you in this matter. Let me give you some advice:, you must check every report through the control commission or through the regimental delegates, without relying on others to see that orders are carried out, or to check reports on stocks. The best guarantee of success is to do all this yourself, to check everything, take account of all stocks and verify every step personally.
I fully agree with what has been said: the workers must take a hand in guarding the city. As they do this together, the soldiers will teach the workers how to handle arms. The wholesale arming of the people and the abolition of the regular army is a task which we must not lose sight of for a single minute. If we recruit the working population the task will be much easier. The comrades' proposal that we meet every day is a practical one. It is true that the Russian revolution produces a great deal of what is novel, that has not occurred in any other revolution. For one thing, there have never been such organs as the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. You must merge with the workers, they will give you everything the bourgeoisie has failed to give you. Every unit, together with the workers' organisation, must see to it that there is a stock of everything necessary for this war of yours, without waiting for pointers from above. We must tackle this task on our own tonight. The units must not wait for instructions from headquarters, they must make their own proposals. You have something the bourgeoisie have never had: their only way is to buy; you can contact the workers who produce everything.