Vladimir Lenin

Speech At

A Meeting In Butyrsky District

August 2, 1918

Newspaper Report

Delivered: 2 August, 1918.
First Published: Brief report published August 3, 1918 In Izvestia No. 164; Published according to the text in the newspaper Soldat Revolytsii (Tsaritsyn) No. 14, August 23, 1918
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1965, pages 40-42
Translated (and edited): Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters
Online Version: V.I.Lenin Internet Archive, 2002

Comrades, today socialist Russia’s destiny is being discussed all over Moscow.[1]

The enemies of Soviet Russia surround us in a tight ring of iron to try to deprive the workers and peasants of everything they gained from the October Revolution. The highflying banner of the Russian social revolution is a thorn in the side of the imperialist vultures and they have gone to war against us, gone to war against the Soviet government, against the workers’ and peasants’ government.

You will remember, comrades, that at the beginning of the revolution the French and British never tired of insisting they were the “allies” of free Russia. And here we have these “allies” today in their true colours. By lies and deceit, saying they had no intention of fighting Russia, these people occupied Murmansk, then captured Kem and began to shoot our comrades, members of the Soviets. True enough, they are not fighting the Russian bourgeoisie, they are not fighting the Russian capitalists, they have declared war on the Soviets, they have declared war on the workers and peasants.

The French and Russian bourgeoisie have found ready accomplices in the Czechs. These mercenaries had reason to fight us. We know whose millions induced the Czechs to go to war against the Soviet government. It was Anglo-French gold. But besides the Czechs, there are other people who did not think twice about bringing down the Soviet government. Like the Czechs, our own “saviours of the fatherland”, Dutov, Alexeyev and the rest, are lining their pockets with British and French gold and waiting for a Russian shower of gold. The Soviet government has a lot of enemies. But are we alone, comrades?

You will recall what it was like in January, when the flame of social revolution had just been lit-there had been a mass strike movement in Germany; now, eight months later, we see mass strike; movements in various countries: there is a mass strike movement among the Austrian workers, our comrades in Italy are-on strike. The end is near for the oppressors of the workers. The imperialists of the world are digging their own graves.

War for mutual plunder does not abate. Two serpents are grappling in the war of plunder: Anglo-French and German imperialism. To please them, for one side’s triumph, ten million peasants and workers have already been killed and twenty million maimed, and many millions of people are engaged in manufacturing weapons of death. In every country the strongest and healthiest people are being called up, the flower of humanity is perishing .... And for what? Just for one of these vultures to lord it over the other ....

The Soviet government said we do not want to fight the Germans, the British or the French. We do not want to kill workers and peasants like ourselves. They are not our enemies. We have a different enemy-the bourgeoisie, whether it be the German, the French, or the Russian who have now joined up with the British and French.

And, like our revolutionary banner, our slogans are being taken up all over the world. In America, the country that used to be called the land of the free, socialists are filling the gaols to overflowing. In Germany, the words of the German socialist Friedrich Adler are being spread far and wide among the workers and soldiers: “Turn your bayonets on your own bourgeoisie instead of on the Russian workers and peasants.” There is no end in sight to the slaughter started by the capitalists. The more Germany wins, the more the savages like her who tag on to the other side. America, too, is now fighting together with the British and French. Only the workers can put an end to the war: world revolution is inevitable. A “defeatist” movement like the one we had has already begun in Germany, mass strikes are taking place in Italy and Austria; and socialists are being arrested wholesale in America. Sensing their doom, the capitalists and landowners are making a last effort to crush the revolutionary movement. The Russian capitalists are stretching out a hand to the British and French capitalists and landowners.

Now there are two fronts: the workers and peasants on one side, and the capitalists on the other. The last, decisive battle is near. Now there can be no compromise with the bourgeoisie. Either them or us.

In 1871, the bourgeoisie overthrew the power of the Paris workers. But in those days there were very few class-conscious workers or revolutionary fighters. This time the workers are backed by the poor peasants and this time the bourgeoisie will not triumph as they did in 1871.

The workers are keeping a firm grip on the mills and factories, and the peasants will not surrender the land to the landowners. And in defence of these achievements we also declare war on all marauders and profiteers. Besides machine-guns and cannons, they are threatening us with famine.

As we declare war on the rich, we say: “Peace to the cottages!” We shall take all the stocks from the profiteers and never abandon the labouring poor to the mercy of fate. (Comrade Lenin’s speech is greeted with stormy applause.)


[1] Once a week, on Firdays, the Moscow Committee of the R.C.P.(B) called big rallies of workers and Red Army men in various districts of Moscow. On Lenin’s suggestion, members of the Central Committee and high-ranking officials regularly addressed these rallies. Lenin often spoke a the rallies, sometimes 3-4 times a day, and demanded that no high-ranking official shirk his duty of speaking before workers. He like to keep his ear to the ground and showed a keen interest in the question and proposals put to the speakers by the workers.

On August 2, 1918, rallies were held on the subject “The Soviet Republic in Dangers”.