Delivered: 3 April, 1919
First Published: Part I: Pravda Nos. 76 and 77, April 9 and 10, 1919; Published according to the verbatim report; Part 2: Pravda No. 73, April 4, 1919; Published according to the Pravda text, verified with the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 255-274
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Comrades, I must commence my report on the domestic and foreign situation of the Soviet Republic by stating that in the coming few months, with the approach of spring, we shall again be faced with an extremely grave situation. I think that the conditions both of the Civil War and of the war against the Entente—I will deal with them when I speak of the international situation—enable us to say, even if we are very cautious, that the half-year, the middle of which we have now reached, will be the last difficult half year; the French and British capitalists will not be strong enough to launch another attack similar to the one they are now developing in full. On the other hand, all our Red Army’s achievements in the Ukraine and the Don, which we are able to consolidate, will greatly alleviate our internal situation, will provide grain and coal, food and fuel. For the time being, however, while the struggle is still going on and we are encountering enormous difficulties in collecting grain in the Ukraine with the roads now impassable owing to the spring thaw, the situation is extremely grave.
We have said more than once that the whole strength of Soviet power rests on the confidence and class-consciousness of the workers. We have more than once demonstrated that numerous as may be the enemies that surround us now, and the spies that the Entente sends into this country and who are assisted by people who are actually helping the whiteguards, probably without realising it, we have never for a moment shut our eyes to the fact that every word uttered here will be misinterpreted, that the agents of the whiteguards will carefully take note of our admissions. But we say: let them! We shall benefit far more from the straightforward and candid truth, because we are sure that although this truth is harsh, nevertheless, if it is clearly heard, every class-conscious worker, every working peasant, will draw the only correct conclusion that can be drawn from it.
In the long run, they will draw from it the only possible conclusion that our cause is close to victory all over the world, and desperately hard as the conditions of the masses of the working people may be, weary, starving and exhausted as they are by four years of imperialist war and another two years of the most frightful Civil War—grave and acute though the situation may be at the present time, we have the most serious chances of gaining victory not only in Russia, but all over the world. That is why, although the next four or five months will be very severe, we shall once again succeed in overcoming our difficulties, and thus prove to our enemies, prove to the combined capitalists of the whole world, that their attack on Russia must fail.
At the present moment they are undoubtedly operating according to a preconceived plan, making attempts in the West and the East to crush us by force of arms so as to save Krasnov’s doomed gangs. Yesterday we received news of the capture of Mariupol. Thus, Rostov is caught in a half-circle. In short, the Entente countries are exerting all their efforts to rescue Krasnov and to strike us a severe blow this very spring. They are undoubtedly operating in agreement with Hindenburg. A comrade from Latvia told us about the conditions under which our Lettish comrades are living. The greater part of the country has suffered misfortunes such as Moscow workers cannot conceive—the misfortunes of invasion and the repeated devastation of the countryside by hordes of moving troops. The Germans are now marching on Dvinsk in order to cut off Riga. In the North they are being assisted by the Estonian whiteguards using money sent by Britain, and with the aid of volunteers sent by the Swedes and Danes, who are entirely in the pay of the multimillionaires of Britain, France and America. They are operating according to a common plan which is quite clear to us; they are taking advantage of the fact that by their bloody sup pressions in Germany they have weakened the movement of the Spartacists and revolutionaries. And although they real ise that they are at their last gasp, they, nevertheless, find the situation sufficiently opportune to place some troops at Hindenburg’s disposal, to step up the attack on tormented and tortured Latvia from the west, and to threaten us. On the other band, Kolchak has achieved a series of victories in the east, and is thus paving the way for the last and most decisive onslaught of the Entente countries.
And as has always been the case, they are not confining themselves to an attack from without, they are operating inside this country by means of plots, rebellions, attempts at bomb-throwing and blowing up the water main in petrograd, which you read about in the newspapers, attempts to dismantle railway lines, such as those made not far from Samara, which is now the main line that supplies us with grain from the East. Part of this grain we lost; it was cap tured by Koichak. Attempts were made to damage the permanent way of the Kursk-Kharkov Railway, on which we were beginning to transport the coal the Red Army had recaptured in the Donets Basin. When all this is taken to gether, it becomes clear that the Entente countries, the French imperialists and multimillionaires, are making their last attempt to crush Soviet power by force of arms.
And the Mensheviks and the Right arid Loft Socialist Revolutionaries still fail to realise that the struggle is drawing to a close and that we are engaged in a most despe rate and relentless war; they continue to advocate either strikes or the cessation of the Civil War, which in any case is helping the whiteguards. I shall speak about them later on; at present I merely want to show that the situation i really grave.
This spring all the forces of the international capitalists want to fight the last battle with us. Fortunately, they are the forces of a decrepit, dying, hopelessly sick old man—international capitalism. But be that as it may, very big military forces have been mustered against us; Koichak, in particular, is now bringing up all his reserves against us, his gangs of volunteer whiteguards are of imposing dimensions, and he is receiving the assistance of Britain and America in the form of vast quantities of arms and munitions. That is why the present situation demands a clear realisation of the difficulties that face the Soviet Republic.
We are convinced that the masses of the working people understand what the war is about. They know that the next few months will decide the fate of our revolution, and to a large extent of the world revolution. They understand that the attempts of the capitalists to crush Soviet Russia have become so fierce, that they are attacking us so furiously, because they realise that in their own countries they are faced by the same enemy—the Bolshevik movement. The growth of the movement in those countries is equally rapid and irresistible.
Our difficulties in food and transport make our position particularly grave and compel us again and again to appeal for the aid of all class-conscious workers. For four years the transport system was gradually ruined by the imperialist war, and in Russia, a backward country, traces of this have not yet been removed, and it will take many months, if not years, of persevering effort to remove them. But it is impossible to work without fuel. Only lately have we begun to receive coal from the Donets Basin. You know that the British have robbed us of our Baku oil supplies. They have captured many of the ships in the Caspian Sea, they have occupied Grozny and are preventing us from using the oil. Neither industry nor the railways can work without fuel. We must exert our efforts to the utmost.
Once again we say to all our comrades that we must enlist larger forces for work on food supplies and transport. The transport situation is such that in Eastern Russia, beyond the Volga, we have accumulated millions of poods of grain10 to 20 million poods have already been acquired and are in store—but cannot transport it. We lost part of this grain as Kolchak’s troops advanced, captured Ufa and compelled our forces to retreat. This loss is a very severe one, and we feel it very much. Transport work calls for the utmost exertion of effort; at every meeting the workers should ask themselves how they can help to improve transport. Cannot women do the work here in place of the men, and the men he sent either to the repair shops or to help the railwaymen? The workers are the best judges of what should be done, because they know which men to put on which job. Practical people know best, and they must devise new ways and means of assisting. We hope, we are convinced, that our Commissariat of Railways, in conjunction with the Commissariat of Food, have already achieved a certain degree of success. No matter what lies our enemies may spread, this goods transport month during which passenger traffic is suspended has already brought about an improvement; but ten times more effort must be exerted to achieve greater success. Some figures were published in yesterday’s issue of Izvestia, the most important of which I will here quote. At the beginning of March, an average of 118 carloads of food of which 25 consisted of grain, were arriving in Moscow every day. By the end of March, the average daily arrivals had increased to 209 carloads of food, of which 47 contained grain. This is an almost twofold increase. It proves that the stern measure of suspending passenger traffic is correct and justified, and shows that we have assisted the starving population of Moscow, Petrograd and of the whole industrial region. But this is by no means all that can be done. And later, when the roads become quite impassable, we shall be faced with a much more difficult and hungry time. That is why we say that in this field the most unrelaxing, energetic efforts must be made. Mainly, we must rely upon the masses of the workers and not count upon the intellectuals who, although they have come to work for us, have a large number of useless people among them.
We must also reckon with the situation in the Ukraine. During the year, when the entire Ukraine was occupied by the Germans, and the whole of the Don region was in a sorry state, we suffered a great deal. Now, however, our position is improving. In the Ukraine there are 258 million poods of grain, of which 100 million have already been earmarked for delivery. But the whole trouble is that the Ukrainian peasants have been frightfully intimidated by the Germans and by German looting. I have heard that the peasants there have been so intimidated by the Germans that although they know what the position of the Soviet Power is here, they still hesitate to seize the landed estates. Meanwhile, the time is approaching for spring field work; but the Ukrainian peasants have suffered the horrors of German looting to such an extent that to this day they are extremely irresolute. I must say that guerrilla warfare has been going on there all the time. In the South it is still going on. There are no regular troops there, owing to which complete victory has not yet been won. We have moved our regular troops in, but this is not enough. We must greatly intensify our efforts, and that is why I insist that at every meeting of workers the question of food supplies and the question of transport definitely must be raised. In the very near future we have to decide the question of how to relieve the situation, and how to utilise what is now available.
We must bear firmly in mind that only with the aid of the forces of the working class can we stand firmly on our feet, and achieve our brilliant victories; and that is why we must send the best forces of the proletariat to the front. We must send leading functionaries to the front and if some office suffers as a result of it, we shall, of course, sustain some loss, but it will not be fatal. If there is a shortage of workers in the army, however, that will certainly be fatal. A defect in our army up to now has been that it lacks cohesion and is not sufficiently organised; all help in this sphere must come from the workers, and on them we must place all our hopes. Only those workers who have gone through the whole struggle, who can relate all their experiences and all they have suffered can influence the army and turn the peasants into the politically-conscious fighters that we need.
That is why we have come here again and decided to call you all together to inform you of the serious state of our transport system, due to the general grave position that we are in. We stress the importance of our holding out for another three or four months, and that only then will complete victory be ours. But for this we need forces. Where are these forces to be found? Is it not clear that only the workers, those who have borne the whole burden of the chaos, bore the whole burden when the struggle changed to whiteguard invasions and thereby acquired great experience—is it not clear that only these workers, only these vanguard contingents, can help us? We know perfectly well that they are terribly exhausted, that they are worn out by the superhuman efforts they are called upon to make. We know all this, but nevertheless, we now say to you here that we must strain every nerve, we must concentrate our minds on rallying all forces to achieve a brilliant victory for the revolution. We are now entering the most difficult, the most trying period, and we must act like revolutionaries. We must recruit our forces from the masses of the working people.
Yesterday a meeting was held of the influential leaders f the trade union movement—both the Moscow and the national leaders. And at this meeting everybody agreed that it is necessary, at the present moment, to enlist for this work the middle stratum of workers, whom everybody has up to now regarded as being incapable of this type of work. Now, however, it is perfectly clear that we must send this middle stratum to relieve our exhausted functionaries. Before doing so, however, those who have been engaged in this work up to now must instruct the newcomers. We must husband our forces, and for a time we must send the middle stratum of workers to take the place of our leading functionaries. We must send tens of thousands of such workers into the field. We must not be afraid that they will not do the work as well as the experienced functionaries did. If we put them into responsible positions, then the mistakes that they may make at first will not have serious consequences. The important thing for us is to put them in the foremost responsible posts.There they will be able to exert an effort and develop their activities, because they will be able to operate confidently, they will know that they are backed by experienced leading workers who have already had a year’s experience of work in Russia. They will know that at critical moments these more experienced comrades will come to their aid and ease their task. This new stratum of workers will be able to do their work well if the advanced workers promote them to leading positions. We can do this without causing any damage, because this large stratum has a proletarian instinct, a proletarian understanding and sense of duty. We may rely upon it, and we may say that it will help us in a time of difficulty. It is a specific feature of Russia that in every critical situation she has always been able to find masses of people who could be moved forward, who Were a reserve in which she could find new forces when the old forces began to grow thin. Yes, the advanced workers are overtired, and the next contingent will not do the work so well; but that is not disastrous, we shall not suffer from it, we shall not ruin our cause if we send these new forces into the field, guide them, and not allow our cause to die.
Under these circumstances I must speak about the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. Lately, the Soviet government has begun to close down their newspapers and to arrest them. Some worker comrades, seeing this, say: “So those Bolsheviks”—I among that number—“who induced us to make certain concessions to the petty-bourgeois democrats were wrong. What was the use of making these concessions if we must now close down their newspapers and arrest them? Is this consistency?”
My answer is this. In a country like Russia, where agriculture is concentrated in the hands of the petty-bourgeois elements, we cannot hold out for long without the support of this petty-bourgeois stratum. At the present time, this stratum is marching towards the goal not by a straight road, but in zigzags. If I am pursuing an enemy who is retreating not by a straight road but in zigzags, then I, too, must proceed in zigzags in order to overtake him. To speak in the language of politics, the petty-bourgeois masses stand between labour and capital, and these masses must be beaten a hundred times to make them understand that the alternative is either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or the dictatorship of the working class. Those who are aware of this, understand the present situation. The workers understand it. Experience and a whole series of observations have taught them that only one or the other of these two systems of government is possible—either the absolute power of the working class, or the absolute power of the bourgeoisie—there can be no middle, or third, course. The working class learned this long ago from its strike and revolutionary struggle. The petty bourgeoisie cannot learn this at once; hundreds of everyday facts have failed to teach and accustom the petty bourgeoisie to this idea, and they continue to dream of uniting with the big bourgeoisie; for they cannot understand that either the dictatorship of the proletariat or the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is inevitable.
Experience of Koichak taught the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks that it was no accident that in the midst of a furious and desperate struggle conducted with foreign assistance, democracy had nothing to give. Two forces are operating upon them—and there are no other forces but these—either the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, or the power and complete dictatorship of the working class; no middle course was ever of any use, nothing came of it anywhere. Nor did anything come of the Constituent Assembly. This the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Menshievjks and the petty bourgeoisie learned from their own experience.
When the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks said: “We shall abandon Koichak and all those who support him and the intervention of the Entente,” it was not only hypocrisy. It was not only a political ruse, although some of these people did think they would fool the Bolsheviks and get an opportunity to play the old game again. We saw through this ruse arid, of course, took measures against it. But when the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries said this, it was not only hypocrisy and cunning; many of them did it in good faith. Among them there is not only the group of writers, but also a petty-bourgeois stratum of technicians, engineers, and so forth. When the Mensheviks announced that they were opposed to the intervention of the Entente, we Invited them to work with us, and they willingly accepted our invitation. But now we are quite right in persecuting them, persecuting the petty-bourgeois stratum, because this stratum is extremely obtuse. This was revealed in the Kerensky period and also by their present conduct. When they came to work for us they said they had abandoned politics, and would work willingly. We told them in reply that we needed Menshevik officials, because they were not embezzlers of state funds, and not Black Hundreds who worm their way into our ranks, call themselves Communists and do us mischief. If these people believe in the Constituent Assembly we tell them to go on believing, not only in the Constituent Assembly, but even in God, but do their work properly and keep out of politics. An increasing number of them realise that they have disgraced themselves in politics. They howled that Soviet power was a monstrous invention, possible only in barbarous Russia. They said that the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly was an act by barbarians whom tsarism had produced. And this was repeated in Europe. Now news comes from Europe that Soviet power is coming to take the place of bourgeois Constituent Assemblies all over the world. These are lessons that are being taught to all intellectuals who come to work for us. We now have twice as many civil servants working for us as we had six months ago. We have gained by accepting these civil servants who do their work better than Black Hundreds. When we invited them to come to work for us they said they were afraid of Kolchak, they preferred us, but would not help us, they said they would talk like pure parliamentarians, just as if they were sitting in a Constituent Assembly; and we shouldn’t dare to touch them, because they were democrats. But we say to these groups who talk about the Constituent Assembly that if they talk like that much longer we shall pack them off to Koichak and to Georgia. (Applause.) Polemics are started, and the opposition of a legal group takes shape. We shall allow no opposition. The imperialists of the whole world have got us by the throat, they are trying to defeat us by all the force of an armed attack and we must fight a life-and-death struggle. If you have come here to help us, then do so, but if you are going to publish newspapers and incite the workers to strike, and these strikes cause the death of our Red Army men at the front, and every day of a strike causes tens of thousands of our factory workers to suffer privations, pangs of hunger—the pangs which are causing us so much concernthen you may be right from the Constituent Assembly point of view, but from the standpoint of our struggle and the responsibility we bear, you are wrong, you cannot help us, so get out, go to Georgia, go to Kolchak, or else you will go to prison. And that is what we shall do with them.
Comrades, I hope we shall all unanimously adopt the resolution to be submitted to you at the end of the meeting. In it we have endeavoured to formulate the necessary instructions, the reasons for which I have given in my report.I should now like to deal with two questions—the position of the middle peasants, and the international situation, which is extremely important.
We discussed the question of the middle peasants at our Party Congress and decided on the line our Party should pursue towards them. Our Party elected to a responsible posts the post of Chairman of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, a post which is all the more responsible for the fact that until recently it was occupied by that exceptionally talented organiser Comrade Sverdlov, for this post our Party chose Comrade Kalinin, a St. Petersburg worker who still has connections with the rural districts. There is a report in the newspapers today that a certain Comrade Kalinin was assassinated by the Socialist-Revolutionaries, but it is not this Kalinin. This shows what methods the Socialist-Revolutionaries resort to. Comrade Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin is a middle peasant from Tver Gubernia, which he visits every year. The middle peasants constitute the largest stratum of the population, and their numbers have increased since our revolution owing to the fact that we abolished the landed estates. The peasantry benefited by our revolution because they seized all the landed estates and, as a consequence, the number of middle peasants greatly increased. If there is discontent among the middle peasants, we say that it is caused from above, and we must ascertain to what extent it is legitimate, considering our lack of forces. You, here in the capital, know how difficult it is to combat bureaucracy and red tape. We are obliged to employ the old civil servants because no other are available. They must be re-educated, taught; but this takes time. We may appoint new workers to responsible posts in the food supply organisations, but there is still an exceedingly large number of old civil servants in the State Control Commission, and we suffer from red tape and bureaucracy. We are trying to appoint new workers to take part in control in the Commissariat of Railways and to work side by side with the experts. This is the way we are combating bureaucracy and red tape. What effort it costs, even here in Moscow! And what is going on in the rural districts? There, people who call themselves members of the Party are often scoundrels, whose lawlessness is most brazen. And how often we have to contend with inexperienced people, who confuse the kulaks with the middle peasants! A kulak is one who lives on the labour of others, who robs others of the fruits of their labour, arid takes advantage of their poverty. The middle peasants do not exploit others and are not exploited themselves; they earn their livelihood on their small farms by their own labour. Not a single socialist in the world ever proposed that the small farmer should be deprived of his property. The small farmer will exist for many years to come. No decrees will have any effect here; we must. wait until the peasants have learned to be guided by experience. When they see that collective farming is far better, they will come over to our side. We must win their confidence. Here we must wage a struggle against abuses. We can fight only with the aid of the urban workers, because they have close connections with the peasants, and they can supply us with hundreds of thousands of functionaries. We know perfectly well that no appointments of comrades to high posts, no circulars, and no decrees will be of any avail, and that the workers of every group, of every circle, must set to work themselves—they have special connections with the rural districts.
I said that the first rule for the workers must be—exert all efforts to help to prosecute the war. The second rule should be—help the middle peasants by keeping in contact with them, so as not to allow a single serious enemy attack in the rural districts to go unpunished. We must point out that the urban workers are bringing assistance to the middle peasants, their comrades, because the middle peasants are also workers, but workers who have been reared under other conditions, who live isolated from each other in rural ignorance from which it is more difficult forthem to extricate themselves. And we must know that the perseverance of our comrades will establish contacts with the middle peasants. An infinitesimal number of peasants will become kulaks, will foment rebellion—that we know. That being the case, how can we help, how can we win the confidence of the middle peasants, how can we help them to combat all sorts of abuses? If we have done little in this field it is not our fault, for we had to fight the bourgeoisie. This has to be realised. Every worker must put the question this way—we, the workers as a whole, have contacts with the middle peasants, and we will utilise these contacts, and see to it that every middle peasant learns of our help not only from the appointment of Comrade Kalinin, but also from the fact that he is obtaining some real assistance, if only slight, if only in the form of slight but comradely advice. The peasants will now appreciate such assistance more than anything else. They must be made to understand why the difficulties of our position prevent us from giving them the assistance they need, assistance in the form of urban culture. The peasants need city-made goods, urban culture, and we must give them these things. Only when the proletariat gives the peasants this form of assistance will they realise that the help of the workers is different from that of the exploiters. To help the peasants to rise to the urban level—this is the task that every worker who has connections with the rural districts must set himself. The urban workers must say to themselves that now, in the spring, when the food situation has become particularly acute, they must go to the peasants’ assistance. And if everybody does even a tiny share of this work, we shall see that our edifice has not merely a façade, and that our cause of safeguarding Soviet power will be achieved; for the peasants say: “Long live Soviet power, long live the Bolsheviks, but down with the communia!” They curse the “communia” that is being organised in a stupid way and forced upon them. They are suspicious of everything that is forced upon them, and quite rightly so. We must go to the middle peasants, we must help them, teach them, but only in the field of science and socialism. In the field of agriculture we must learn from them. There you have the task that confronts us directly.
We now come to the international situation. I say that the imperialists of Britain, France and America are making their last attempt to bring us to our knees, but they will fail. Difficult as the situation is, we can say with confidence that we shall defeat international imperialism. We shall defeat the multimillionaires of the whole world. There are two reasons why we shall beat them. First, because they are WII d beasts who are so absorbed in fighting among themselves, that they continue to bite each other and fail to see that they are on the brink of a precipice; secondly, because Soviet power is growing uninterruptedly all over the world. Not a day passes but what we read about this in the newspapers. Today we read a message wirelessed from an American press office in Lyons to the effect that the Committee of Ten has now been reduced, and that there are now only four—Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau and Orlando. These are the leaders of four nations, but even they cannot reach an agreement. Britain and America do not want France to have the coal profits. They are wild beasts who have plundered the whole world and are now quarrelling over the prey. These four men have shut themselves up in close conclave so that, God forbid, rumours may not get about—they are all such great democrats—but they themselves set rumours afloat by sending out wireless messages about not agreeing to give up the coal profits. A French comrade who saw the French prisoners of war told me that these prisoners say: “We were told that we must go to Russia to fight the Germans because the Germans had destroyed our country. But now there is an armistice with Germany; whom are we going to fight?” They were not told a word about that. The number of people who are asking themselves this question is day by day growing into millions and millions. These people have experienced the horrors of the imperialist war, and they say: “What are we going to fight for?” In the past, the Bolsheviks taught them what they were fighting for in underground leaflets; but now the imperialists send out wireless messages saying that Britain does not agree to allow France to have the coal profits. Thus, as a French journalist expressed it, they are rushing from room to room in a vain effort to solve the problem. They are trying to decide who should get most, and they have been fighting each other for five months. These wild beasts have lost their self-control, and will go on fighting until nothing is left of them except their tails. And we say that our international position, which at first was so precarious that they could have crushed us in several weeks, is now, when they are quarrelling over the loot and are beginning to fly at each others’ throats—now our position is much better. They promised the soldiers that if they conquered Germany they would receive untold benefits. They are arguing whether to compel Germany to pay sixty or eighty milliard. This is an extremely important question of principle, an extremely interesting one, especially if the workers or peasants are told about it. But if they go on arguing for long they will not get even one milliard. This is what is most interesting!
That is why we say, without exaggerating in the least, not even as socialists, but simply and soberly weighing up the forces that are mustered against us, that the position of the Soviet Republic is improving day by day and hour by hour. Our enemies cannot agree among themselves. Five months have passed since they won their victory, but they have not concluded peace. Recently, the French Chamber again voted hundreds of millions for war preparations. They are digging their own grave, and there are people over there who will lower them into this grave and pile plenty of earth over them. (Applause.) This is because the Soviet movement is growing in all countries. And the Hungarian revolution has shown that when we say that we are fighting not only for ourselves, but for Soviet power all over the world, that blood of the Red Army men is being shed not only for the sake of our starving comrades, but for the victory of Soviet power all over the world—the example of Hungary has shown that this is not merely prophecies and promises, but the most actual and immediate reality.
In Hungary the revolution was most unusual in form. The Hungarian Kerensky, who over there is called Kdrolyi, voluntarily resigned, and the Hungarian compromisers—the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries—realised that they must go to the prison where our Hungarian comrade Bela Kun, one of the best of the Hungarian Communists, was confined. They went to him and said: “You must take power!” (Applause.) The bourgeois government resigned. The bourgeois socialists, the Hungarian Mensheviks and SocialistRevolutionaries, merged with the Hungarian Bolshevik Party and formed a united party and a united government. Comrade B61a Kun, our comrade, and a Communist who had trodden the whole practical path of Bolshevism in Russia, said to me when I spoke to him by wireless: “I have not got a majority in the government, but I shall win because the masses are behind me, and we are convening a congress of Soviets.” This is a revolution of world—historical importance.
Up to now all the European workers have been told lies about Soviet Russia. They have been told that there is no government but sheer anarchy in Russia. The Bolsheviks are just a crowd of quarrelsome people. Recently, the French Minister, Pichon, said about Soviet Russia, “It is anarchy, they are violators, usurpers!” “Look at Russia,” said the Gerluau Mensheviks to their workers. “War, famine and ruin! Is this the sort of socialism you want?” And in this way they have been intimidating the workers. But Hungary was a example of a revolution born in a different way. Hungary will undoubtedly have to go through a severe struggle against the bourgeoisie—that is inevitable. But the fact is that when those beasts, the British and French imperialists, foresaw the possibility of revolution in Hungary they wanted to crush it, to prevent its birth. The difficulty of our position was that we had to give birth to Soviet power in opposition to patriotism. We had to break down this patriotism and conclude the Brest peace. This was a most desperate, furious and sanguinary operation. The bourgeoisie in the neighbouring countries realised who would have to govern. Who, if not the Soviet? It was like the old days when kings, kinglets and princes saw that their power was waning and they said, “We must have a constitution; let the bourgeoisie come and govern!” And if the king was feeble, he was given a pension, or a sinecure. What the kings or kinglets experienced fifty or sixty years ago, the world bourgeoisie is now experiencing. When the British and French imperialists submitted unprecedented demands to the Hungarian capitalists, the latter said, “We cannot fight. The people will not follow us; but we are Hungarian patriots and we want to resist. What kind of government should we have? A Soviet government.” The Hungarian bourgeoisie admitted to the world that it had resigned voluntarily and that the only power in the world capable of guiding the nation in a moment of crisis was Soviet power. (Applause.) That is why the Hungarian revolution, owing to its having been born in a totally different way from ours, will reveal to the whole world that which was concealed in Russia—i.e., that Bolshevism is bound up with a new, proletarian, workers’ democracy, that is taking the place of the old parliament. Time was when the workers were deceived and enslaved by capital. Today, world Soviet power is coming into being to take the place of the old bourgeois parliament; and this Soviet power has won the sympathies of all workers because it is the power of ,the working people, the power of millions who rule and govern themselves. Perhaps they govern badly, as we do in Russia, but our conditions are exceedingly difficult. In a country where the bourgeoisie will not offer such furious resistance, the tasks of the Soviet government will be easier; it will he able to operate without the violence, without the bloodshed that was forced upon us by the Kerenskys and the imperialists. We shall reach our goal even by this, more difficult, road. Russia may have to make greater sacrifices than other countries; this is not surprising considering the chaos that we inherited. Other countries will travel by a different, more humane road, but at the end of it lies the same Soviet power. That is why the example of Hungary is of decisive importance.
People learn from experience. It is impossible to prove merely by words that Soviet power is just. The example of Rusia alone was not sufficiently intelligible to the workers of all countries. They knew that there was a Soviet there, they were all in favour of the Soviet, but they were daunted by the horrors of the sanguinary struggle. The example of Hungary will be decisive for the proletarian masses, for the European proletariat and working peasants. In a moment of difficulty there is no one to rule the country but the Soviet government.
We remember what old people say, “The children have, grown up, they have made their way in the world, now we can die.” But we do not intend to die. We are marching to victory. But when we see children like Hungary, where Soviet power already exists, we say that we have done our work not only on a Russian, but also on an international scale; that we shall surmount all our desperate difficulties and win full victory, so that we shall live to see the day when the world Soviet republic will be added to the Russian and the Hungarian Soviet Republics. (Applause.)
The Soviet Republic, in the harsh but glorious struggle it is waging at the head of all peoples, is entering the most difficult period of its existence. The next few months will be months of crisis. The Entente is making its last, desperate effort to crush us by force of arms. The food situation is becoming extremely acute. The transport system is in a serious state.
Only the greatest effort can save us. Victory is nevertheless fully possible. The revolution in Hungary provides conclusive proof of the rapid growth of the Soviet movement in Europe, and of its impending victory. We have more allies in all countries than we ourselves imagine. To achieve the final victory we must hold on for another four or five months, which, perhaps, will be the bitterest and most dangerous. And in days like these, reckless men and adventurers who call themselves Mensheviks and Left and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, while paying lip-service to Soviet power and protesting against the armed intervention of the Entente, are fomenting strikes or agitating for concessions to freedom to trade or for the cessation of the Civil War, forgetting that we have offered peace to all, and that our war is a just, legitimate and unavoidable war of defence. Obviously, by this sort of agitation they give most active and effective assistance to the whiteguards, who are making a last effort to force us into disaster. The meeting condemns these masked enemies of the people.
It declares to all those Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries who are really prepared to help us in our difficult struggle, that the workers’ and peasants’ government will grant them full liberty, and guarantee them all the rights of citizens of the Soviet Republic.
This meeting declares that the task of the Soviet Government at the present time is to wage relentless war upon those Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries who, like the literary and political groups, Vsegda Vperyod and Dyelo Naroda, are actually impeding our struggle and are the allies of our inveterate enemies. This meeting calls upon all working-class organisations, all proletarians, and all working peasants to exert every effort to repel the enemies of Soviet power, to defend that power and to improve the food supply and transport systems.
For this purpose, this meeting deems it necessary:
(1) To enlist members of the middle section—i.e., people who are less experienced than the advanced workers and peasants—to replace the weary advanced section.
(2) To engage still further contingents of the advanced and other sections of workers on food supplies, transport, and in the army.
(3) To enlist the largest possible number of politically conscious workers and peasants to work at the People’s Commissariat of Railways and at the State Control Commission, in order to improve the functioning of these bodies and to eliminate bureaucracy and red tape.
(4) To transfer the largest possible number of people from the starving cities to agricultural work in the rural districts—to vegetable gardens, to the Ukraine, to the Don region, and so forth, so as to increase the output of grain and other agricultural produce.
(5) To exert all efforts to help the middle peasants, to put a stop to the abuses from which they suffer so often, and to render them comradely assistance. Those Soviet officials who fail to understand this policy—which is the only correct policy—or who are unable to pursue it, must be immediately dismissed.
(6) The task that confronts everybody at the present time is to combat all signs of weariness, faint-heartedness and vacillation. We must imbue all hearts with courage and firmness, increase political consciousness, and strengthen comradely discipline.
The working class and the peasantry of Russia have borne incredible burdens. During the past few months their sufferings have been more acute than ever. But this meeting declares that the will of the workers is not broken, that the working class is still at its post, that it is convinced that it will overcome all difficulties, and that it will maintain at all costs the victory of the Soviet Socialist Republic in Russia, and throughout the world.