Vladimir Lenin

Speech At A Ceremonial Meeting Of The

All-Russia Central And Moscow Trade Union Councils

November 6, 1918[1]

Newspaper report

Delivered: 6 November, 1918.
First Published: Izvestia No. 244, November 9, 1918; Published according to the Izvestia text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1974, pages 131-133
Translated (and edited): Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters
Online Version: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive, 2002

(Those present rise and greet Comrade Lenin with stormy, prolonged applause.) People today are gathering at hundreds of meetings to celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution. To those who have been in the workers’ movement for some time, who were connected with the workers in the old days, and who had close contacts with the factories, it is clear that this past year has been one of genuine proletarian dictatorship. This concept used to be mysterious book Latin, a mouthful of incomprehensible words. Intellectuals sought an explanation of the concept in learned works, which only gave them a hazy notion of what the proletarian dictatorship was all about. The chief thing that stands to our credit during this past year is that we have translated these words from abstruse Latin into plain Russian. During this past year the working class has not been engaged in idle philosophising, but in the practical work of creating and exercising a proletarian dictatorship, despite the excited mental state of the intellectuals.

Capitalism still rules the roost in the West. But now the day of great upheavals is dawning there too. Today the West-European workers, too, are approaching the difficult period of transition from capitalism to socialism. They, like ourselves, will have to smash the entire old apparatus and build a new one.

We have not been able to utilise the whole store of experience, knowledge and technical training the bourgeois intellectuals had. The bourgeoisie sneered at the Bolsheviks and said the Soviet government would scarcely hold out for a fortnight; so they not only shirked co-operation, but wherever they could and with every means in their power put up resistance to the new movement, the new construction which was destroying the old order.

The resistance of the bourgeoisie has by no means ceased. It is growing more vindictive every day; the nearer the end of the old capitalist world approaches, the faster it grows.

Due to Bolshevism’s growing strength and the world-wide dimensions it is assuming, the international situation today could well cause an alliance of imperialists of all shades to attack the Soviet Republic; then bourgeois resistance would be international rather than national.

Germany, as you know, has expelled our Ambassador from Berlin on the pretext that our mission in Germany was conducting revolutionary propaganda. As if the German Government did not know before that our Embassy was a carrier of the revolutionary contagion. If Germany said nothing about it before, it was because she was still strong and not afraid of us. But now, after her military collapse, she has begun to dread us. The German generals and capitalists are turning to the Allies and saying: “You may have beaten us, but don’t carry your experiments on us too far, for we are both menaced by world Bolshevism; and we might be useful in the fight against it.”

It is quite possible that the Allied imperialists may unite with the German imperialists for a joint campaign against Russia, provided, of course, the German imperialists still survive. That is why the danger that has surrounded us all through the past year is now looming larger than ever. But now we are not alone. We now have friends in the people who have already rebelled and those who are about to rebel and who are making it plain enough to their governments that they refuse to go on fighting for rapacious aims. Although a new stretch of very dangerous periods lies ahead, we shall continue our socialist construction. Past experience will help us avoid mistakes and lend us fresh strength in our further work.

The part played by the trade unions in the building of a new apparatus has been tremendous. The working class has shown that it is capable of organising industry without intellectuals or capitalists. Much has been done, but much still remains to be done. Comrades, carry on boldly along the path you have been following, and get more and more people to join in the work! Give all workers who are connected with the people and sincerely want the new system to take firm root, even though they may be illiterate, inexperienced and untrained-give them all, whether Party members or not, a chance to work and learn in the new proletarian state, to govern and create wealth.

The workers of the world will rise up, overthrow capitalism everywhere and consummate our work, which will lead to the complete victory of socialism! (Stormy applause.)


[1] The Congress was held at the Bolshoi Theatre between November 6 and 9, 1918. Its opening coincided with the celebrations of the anniversary of the October Revolution. There were 1,296 delegates (963 with voting rights and 333 with voice but no vote), of whom 1.260 were Communists. The agenda included the following items: anniversary of the October Revolution, the international situation, military situation, building of Soviet power at the centre, Poor Peasants’ Committees and local Soviets. Lenin was elected honorary chairman of the Congress. After hearing Lenin's report on the anniversary of the October Revolution at the first sitting on November 6, the delegates sent greetings to the workers, peasants and soldiers of all countries and their leaders who were fighting for peace and socialism, and to the Red Army. On Sverdlov’s proposal the Congress adopted an appeal to the governments at war with Soviet Russia to start peace negotiations. In view of the strengthening of Soviet power and the victories of the Red Army the Congress adopted a decision on amnesty.