V. I. Lenin

People From Another World

Written: 6 January, 1918
First Published: 21 January, 1918 in Pravda No. 17.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 26, 1972, pp. 431-433
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


"Friends, I have lost a day," says an old Latin tag. One cannot help but recall it when one remembers how the fifth of January was lost.

After real, lively, Soviet work among workers and peasants engaged on real tasks, clearing the forest and uprooting the stumps of landowner and capitalist exploitation, we were suddenly transported to "another world", to arrivals from another world, from the camp of the bourgeoisie with its willing or unwilling, conscious or unconscious champions, with its hangers-on, servants and advocates. Out of the world in which the working people and their Soviet organisation were conducting the struggle against the exploiters we were transported to the world of saccharine phrases, of slick, empty declamations, of promises and more promises based, as before, on conciliation with the capitalists.

It is as though history had accidentally, or by mistake, turned its clock back, and January 1918 for a single day became May or June 1917!

It was terrible! To be transported from the world of living people into the company of corpses, to breathe the odour of the dead, to hear those mummies with their empty "social" Louis Blanc phrases, to hear Chernov and Tsereteli, was simply intolerable.

Comrade Skvortsov was right when he rapped out to the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries these two or three brief phrases, simple, calm and at the same time ruthlessly cutting: "Between us everything is over. We are carrying the October Revolution against the bourgeoisie to its culmination. We and you are on different sides of the barricades."

In reply to that came a torrent of over-smooth, empty phrases from Chernov and Tsereteli that carefully avoided only (only!) one question—that of Soviet power, of the October Revolution. "Let there be no civil war, let there be no sabotage," said Chernov, invoking the revolution in the name of the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries. And the latter who for six months, from June 1917 to January 1918, had been sleeping like corpses in their coffins, stood up and clapped furiously and persistently. It is really so easy and so pleasant to settle the problems of the revolution by an incantation. "Let there be no civil war, let there be no sabotage, let everybody recognise the Constituent Assembly." In what way does that differ, in essence, from the invocation: "Let the workers and capitalists make peace"? Not in any way. The Kaledins and Ryabushinskys together with their imperialist friends in all countries will not disappear or change their policy because of the invocations of the mealy-mouthed Chernov or because of Tsereteli's boring precepts that seem to have been taken from a misunderstood, poorly read and misinterpreted book.

Either conquer the Kaledins and Ryabushinskys or give up the revolution. Either victory over the exploiters in the civil war, or the collapse of the revolution. Such has been the issue in all revolutions, in the English revolution in the seventeenth century, in the French in the eighteenth century and in the German in the nineteenth century. How could it be thought that the Russian revolution in the twentieth century would not face that issue? How can wolves become lambs?

Tsereteli and Chernov do not show a grain of an idea, not the slightest desire to accept the fact of the class struggle that has become civil war, not by chance, not suddenly, not because of somebody's caprice or ill will, but inevitably, in the long process of revolutionary development.

It was a hard, boring and irksome day in the elegant rooms of the Taurida Palace, whose very aspect differs from that of Smolny approximately in the same way as elegant, but moribund bourgeois parliamentarism differs from the plain, proletarian Soviet apparatus that is in many ways still disorderly and imperfect but is living and vital. There, in that old world of bourgeois parliamentarism, the leaders of hostile classes and hostile groups of the bourgeoisie did their fencing. Here, in the new world of the proletarian and peasant, socialist state, the oppressed classes are making clumsy, inefficient. . . .[manuscript breaks off at this point—Editor]