First Published: July 24, 1918 in Pravda No. 153 and Izvestia VTsIK No. 155; Published according to the Pravda text, collated with the Izvestia text.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 27, pages 545-548
Translated: Clemens Dutt; Edited by Robert Daglish
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive March, 2002
(Lenin's appearance in the conference hall was greeted with loud applause, which continued for several minutes.) These past few days have been marked by an extreme aggravation of the affairs of the Soviet Republic, caused both by the country's position internationally and by the counter-revolutionary plots and the food crisis which is closely connected with them.
Allow me to dwell on the international situation. The Russian revolution is only one of the contingents of the international socialist army, on the action of which the success and triumph of our revolution depends. This is a fact which none of us lose sight of. We likewise bear in mind that the vanguard role of the Russian proletariat in the work working-class movement is not due to the economic development of the country. On the contrary, it is the backwardness of Russia, the inability of what is called our native bourgeoisie to cope with the enormous problems connected with the war and its cessation that have led the proletariat to seize political power and establish its own class dictatorship.
Aware of the isolation of its revolution, the Russian proletariat clearly realises that an essential condition and prime requisite for its victory is the united action of the workers of the whole world, or of several capitalistically advanced countries. But the Russian proletariat knows perfectly well that it has both avowed and unavowed friends in every country. For example, there is no country where the prisons are not crammed with internationalists who sympathise with Soviet Russia; there is no country where revolutionary socialist thought has not found expression in either the open or underground press. And therefore, knowing our true friends, we refuse to come to any understanding with the Mensheviks, who supported Kerensky and his offensive. Very significant in this latter connection is a letter (small in size but distinctly internationalist in substance) from the internationalist Rosa Luxemburg, which appeared in the British paper the Workers' Dreadnought on the subject of the June offensive. Rosa Luxemburg holds that the internationalism of the Great Russian Revolution was undermined by Kerensky's offensive and by the sanction and approval given to it by the First All-Russia Congress of Soviets. This offensive of revolutionary Russia retarded the development of the revolution in the West, and it was only the dictatorship of the proletariat, its assumption of the entire power, that led to the frustration of the secret treaties and the exposure of their predatory, imperialist character, and, hence, to the acceleration of revolutionary developments in Europe. An equally powerful influence in awakening and developing proletarian energies in the West was exercised by our appeal to all the nations for the conclusion of a democratic peace without annexations or indemnities. All these revolutionary acts opened the eyes of the workers of the whole world, and no efforts on the part of the bourgeois and renegade socialist groups will succeed in obscuring their awakened class consciousness. The reception given to Kerensky by the British workers shows this quote clearly. The attraction exercised by the Russian revolution found expression in the first action of the German workers on a grand scale since the outbreak of the war, when they reacted to the Brest negotiations by a gigantic strike in Berlin and other industrial centres. This action of the proletariat in a country doped by the fumes of nationalism and intoxicated with the poison of chauvinism is a fact of cardinal importance and marks a turn of sentiment among the German proletariat.
We cannot say what course the revolutionary movement in Germany will take. One thing is certain, and that is the existence of a tremendous revolutionary force there that must by iron necessity make its presence felt. There is no reason to blame the German workers for not making a revolution. One might with equal justice have blamed the Russian workers for not manufacturing a revolution during the ten years 1907-1917. But that, we know, would be wrong. Revolutions are not made to order, they cannot be timed for any particular moment; they mature in a process of historical development and break out at a moment determined by a whole complex of internal and external causes. That moment is close at hand and is bound to come, inevitably and unavoidably. It was easier for us to start the revolution, but it is extremely difficult to continue it and consummate it. It is terribly difficult to make a revolution in such a highly developed country as Germany, with its splendidly organised bourgeoisie, but all the easier will it be to triumphantly consummate the socialist revolution once it flares up and spreads in the advanced capitalist countries of Europe.
There is no reason to blame us for concluding the Brest Treaty--humiliating, distressful and brutal though it is--or to regard it as a complete renunciation of our ideals and an act of allegiance to German imperialism. It is characteristic that these accusations come from the bourgeois circles and compromiser-socialists, who in the Ukraine, Finland and the Caucasus (the Mensheviks) are today greeting the German Junkers with open arms. Similar accusations are showered upon our heads by the empty-headed Left Socialist-Revolutionaries. We are perfectly aware of the distressful nature of the Brest Treaty. We are also aware that under this brutal treaty we shall have to pay Germany about 6,000,000,000 rubles, according to the calculations of our economic delegation now in Berlin. The situation is undoubtedly a hard one, but a way out can and must be found by the joint efforts of the proletariat and the poor peasants. And the mad attempt of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries to embroil us in war by assassinating Mirbach is not the way to escape from the Brest Treaty. On the contrary, this act of folly played into the hands of the German war parties, whose position, naturally, is bound to be weakened by the growth of defeatism not only among the German workers, but also among the bourgeoisie. For now, after the Brest peace, it is clear and obvious to everybody that Germany is waging a predatory war for definitely imperialist aims.
The food situation in Soviet Russia, surrounded as she is on all sides by imperialist plunderers and with ever alert counter-revolutionaries with the country supporting them, is very grave.
The attention of the working class must be directed to combating famine, the bourgeoisie's most effective means of fighting the proletarian dictatorship. But one thing we must take as our fundamental precept: in combating famine, we will categorically renounce the bourgeois methods of struggle, the method of starving the masses in the interests of the money-bags and parasites, and will resort to purely socialist methods. And these consist in introducing a grain monopoly and establishing fixed prices in the interests of the workers.
The bourgeoisie and its followers, the compromiser-socialists, are advocating freedom of trade and the abolition of the fixed prices. But freedom of trade has already displayed its fruits in a number of cities. No sooner were the bourgeoisie in power than the price of grain increased several times over, and as a result that commodity disappeared from the market; it was hidden away by the kulaks in the hope of a further rise of prices.
The most desperate enemy of the proletariat and Soviet Russia is famine. But in its efforts to vanquish it, the proletariat comes into collision with the rural bourgeoisie, which, far from having any interest in putting an end to the famine, derives advantage from it for its own group and class. The proletariat must bear this in mind and, in alliance iwth the starving peasant poor, must start a desperate and uncompromising struggle against the rural kulaks. With the same purpose in view, the organisation of food detachments already begun should be continued, and at the head of them should be placed honest Communists who enjoy the confidence of the Party and trade union organisations. Only then will the food problem be solved and the cause of the revolution saved.