Written: No later than 3 July, 1919
First Published: Published in the Bulletin of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.) No. 4, July 9, 1919; Published according to the Bulletin, verified with a typewritten copy bearing Lenin’s corrections
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 436-455
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
This is one of the most critical, probably even the most critical moment for the socialist revolution. Those who defend the exploiters, the landowners and capitalists, in Russia and abroad (primarily in Britain and France) are making a desperate effort to restore the power of those who seize the results of the people’s labour, the landowners and exploiters of Russia, in order to bolster up their power, which is waning all over the world. The British and French capitalists have failed in their plan to conquer the Ukraine using their own troops; they have failed in their support of Kolchak in Siberia; the Red Army, heroically advancing in the Urals with the help of the Urals workers who are rising to a man, is nearing Siberia to liberate it from the incredible tyranny and brutality of the capitalists who rule there. Lastly, the British and French imperialists have failed in their plan to seize Petrograd by means of a counter-revolutionary conspiracy with the participation of Russian monarchists, Cadets, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries (not excluding even Left Socialist-Revolutionaries).
The foreign capitalists are now making a desperate effort to restore the yoke of capital by means of an onslaught by Denikin, whom they have supplied with officers, shells, tanks, etc., etc., as they once did Kolchak.
All the forces of the workers and peasants, all the forces of the Soviet Republic, must be harnessed to repulse Denikin’s onslaught and to defeat him, without checking the Red Army’s victorious advance into the Urals and Siberia. That is the
All Communists first and foremost, all sympathisers with them, all honest workers and peasants, all Soviet officials must pull themselves together like soldiers and concentrate to the maximum their work, their efforts and their concern directly on the tasks of the war, on the speedy repulse of Denikin’s attack, curtailing and rearranging all their other activities to allow for this task.
The Soviet Republic is besieged by the enemy. It must become a single military camp, not in word but in deed.
All the work of all institutions most be adapted to the war and placed on a military footing!
Collegiate methods are essential for the conduct of the affairs of the workers’ and peasants’ state. But any expansion of these methods, any distortion of them resulting in red tape and irresponsibility, any conversion of collegiate bodies into talk-shops is a supreme evil, an evil which must be halted at all costs as quickly as possible and by whatever the means.
Collegiate methods must not exceed an absolutely indispensable minimum in respect both to the number of members in the committees and to the efficient conduct of work; “speechifying” must be prohibited, opinions must be exchanged as rapidly as possible and confined to information and precisely formulated practical proposals.
Whenever there is the slightest possibility, such methods must be reduced to the briefest discussion of only the most important questions in the narrowest collegiate bodies, while the practical management of institutions, enterprises, undertakings or tasks should be entrusted to one comrade, known for his firmness, resolution, boldness and ability to conduct practical affairs and who enjoys the greatest confidence. At any rate, and under all circumstances without exception, collegiate management must be accompanied by the priciest definition of the personal responsibility of every individual for a precisely defined job. To refer to collegiate methods as an excuse for irresponsibility is a most dangerous evil, threatening all who have not had very extensive experience in efficient collective work; in the army it all too often leads to inevitable disaster, chaos, panic, division of authority and defeat.
A no less dangerous evil is organisational fuss or organisational fantasies. The reorganisation of work necessitated by the war must under no circumstances lead to the reorganisation of institutions, still less to the hasty formation of new institutions. That is absolutely impermissible and would only lead to chaos. The reorganisation of work should consist in suspending for a time institutions which are not absolutely essential, or in reducing their size to a certain extent. But all war work must be conducted entirely and exclusively through already existing military institutions, by improving, strengthening, expanding and supporting them. The creation of special “defence committees” or “revcoms” (revolutionary or revolutionary military committees) is permissible, first, only by way of exception, secondly, only with the approval of the military authority concerned or the superior Soviet authority, and, thirdly, only provided this last condition is complied with.
Kolchak and Denikin are the chief, and the only serious, enemies of the Soviet Republic. If it were not for the help they are getting from the Entente (Britain, France, America) they would have collapsed long ago. It is only the help of the Entente which makes them strong. Nevertheless, they are still forced to deceive the people, to pretend from time to time that they support “democracy”, a “constituent assembly”, “government by the people”, etc. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries are only too willing to be duped.
The truth about Kolchak (and his double, Denikin) has now been revealed in full. The shooting of tens of thousands of workers. The shooting even of Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. The flogging of peasants of entire districts. The public flogging of women. The absolutely unbridled power of the officers, the sons of landowners. Endless looting. Such is the truth about Kolchak and Denikin. Increasing numbers of people even among the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who themselves betrayed the workers and sided with Kolchak and Denikin, are forced to admit this truth.
All our agitation and propaganda must serve to inform the people of the truth. It must be explained that the alternative is either Kolchak and Denikin or Soviet power, the power (dictatorship) of the workers. There is no middle course; there can be no middle course. Particular use must be made of the testimony of non-Bolshevik eyewitnesses, of Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, and non-party people who have been in the areas overrun by Kolchak or Denikin. Let every worker and peasant know what the issue of the struggle is, what awaits him in the event of a victory for Kolchak or Denikin.
One of our chief concerns must now be work among those liable to mobilisation, in aid of mobilisation, and among those already mobilised. Wherever mobilised men are concentrated, or where there are garrisons, and especially training depots, etc., every single Communist and sympathiser must be brought into action. They must all without exception unite and work, some daily, others, say, four or eight hours per week, in aid of mobilisation and among mobilised men, among the soldiers of the local garrison; it must be done in a properly organised manner, of course, each person being assigned appropriate work by the local Party organisation and the military authorities.
Non-party people or members of parties other than the Communist Party are naturally not in a position to carry on ideological work against Denikin or Kolchak. But to release them for that reason from all work would be impermissible. Every means must be sought that would compel the whole population (and the wealthier sections, both in town and country, in the first place) to contribute their share, in one form or another, to help mobilisation or the mobilised.
Measures to further the quickest and most effective training of the mobilised should form a special category of aid. The Soviet government is calling up all ex-officers, non-commissioned officers, etc. The Communist Party, as well as all sympathisers and all workers, must assist the workers’ and peasants’ state, first, by helping to round up all ex-officers, non-commissioned officers, etc., who do not report for service, and, secondly, by organising, under the control of the Party organisation or attached to it, groups of those who have had theoretical or practical (e.g., in the imperialist war) military training and who are capable of doing their share.
An obvious change for the better has latterly taken place in the fight against desertion. In a number of gubernias deserters have begun to return to the army en masse; it is no exaggeration to say that deserters are flocking to the Red Army. The reasons are, first, that Party comrades are working more efficiently and systematically, and, secondly, the peasants’ growing realisation that Kolchak and Denikin mean the restoration of a regime which is worse than the tsarist, the restoration of slavery for the workers and peasants, and of floggings, robbery and insults on the part of the officers and scions of the nobility.
We must therefore everywhere lay special stress on the work among deserters to bring them back into the army, and must spare no effort in this work. That is one of the primary and urgent tasks of the day.
Incidentally, the fact that deserters can be influenced by persuasion and that the persuasion can be effective shows that the workers’ state has a special attitude towards the peasants, and in this it differs from the landowner or capitalist state The rule of the bludgeon or the rule of hunger—that is what constitutes the sole source of discipline of the latter two forms of state. A different source of discipline is possible in the case of the workers’ state, or the dictatorship of the proletariat—that of persuasion of the peasants by the workers, a comradely alliance between them. When you hear the accounts of eyewitnesses that in such-and-such a gubernia (Ryazan, for instance) thousands upon thousands of deserters are returning voluntarily, that the appeal at meetings to “comrades deserters” sometimes has a success which beggars all description, you begin to realise how much untapped strength there is in this comradely alliance between workers and peasants. The peasant has his prejudice, which makes him inclined to support the capitalist, the Socialist-Revolutionary, and “freedom to trade”, but he also has his sound judgement, which is impelling him more and more towards an alliance with the workers.
What our army needs most is supplies—clothing, foot wear, arms, shells. With the country impoverished as it is, an immense effort has to be made to satisfy the army’s needs, and it is only the assistance which the capitalist robbers of Britain, France and America are so lavishly rendering Kolchak and Denikin that saves them from inevitable disaster due to shortage of supplies.
But impoverished though Russia is, she still has endless resources which we have not yet utilised, and often have shown no ability to utilise. There are still many undisclosed or uninspected military stores, plenty of production potentialities which are being overlooked, partly owing to the deliberate sabotage of officials, partly owing to red tape, bureaucracy, inefficiency and incompetence—all those “sins of the past” which so inevitably and so drastically weigh upon every revolution which makes a “leap” into a new social order.
Direct aid to the army in this respect is particularly important. The institutions in charge of it are particularly in need of “fresh blood”, of outside assistance, of the voluntary, vigorous and heroic initiative of the workers and peasants in the localities.
We must appeal as widely as possible to the initiative of all class-conscious workers and peasants, and of all Soviet officials; we must test in different localities and in different fields of work different forms of assistance to the army in this respect. “Work in a revolutionary way” is far less in evidence here than in other spheres, yet “work in a revolutionary way” is needed here far more.
The collection of arms from the population is an integral part of this work. It is natural that plenty of arms should have been hidden by the peasants and the bourgeoisie in a country which has been through four years of imperialist war followed by two people’s revolutions—it was inevitable that this should happen. But we must combat it with all our might now, in face of Denikin’s menacing onslaught whoever conceals or helps to conceal arms is guilty of a grave crime against the workers and peasants and deserves to be shot, for he is responsible for the death of thousands upon thousands of the finest Red Army men, who not infrequently perish only because of a shortage of arms at the fronts.
The Petrograd comrades succeeded in unearthing thousands and thousands of rifles when they conducted mass searches in a strictly organised way. The rest of Russia must not lag behind Petrograd and must at all costs over take and outstrip it.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that the largest numbers of rifles are hidden by the peasants, and often without the least evil intention, but solely from an ingrained distrust of any “state”, etc. If we have been able to do much, very much (in the best gubernias) by means of persuasion, skilful agitation and a proper approach to get deserters to return to the Red Army voluntarily, there can be no doubt that just as much, if not more, can be done, and should be done, to secure a voluntary return of arms.
Workers and peasants, look for concealed rifles and turn them over to the army! By doing so you will save yourselves from being massacred, shot, flogged wholesale and robbed by Kolchak and Denikin!
To carry out even a part of the work briefly outlined above we shall need more and more workers, drawn, moreover, from the ranks of the most reliable, devoted and energetic Communists. But where are they to come from, bearing in mind the universal complaints about the dearth of such workers and the over-fatigue they are suffering from?
There can be no doubt that these complaints are largely justified. If anyone were to gauge exactly how thin is that stratum of advanced workers and Communists who with the support and sympathy of the worker and peasant masses have administered Russia in these last twenty months, it would seem truly incredible. Yet we administered with signal success, building socialism, overcoming unparalleled difficulties, and vanquishing enemies, directly or indirectly connected with the bourgeoisie, that raised their heads everywhere. We have already vanquished all enemies except one—the Entente, the all-powerful imperialist bourgeoisie of Britain, France and America. And we have broken one of the arms of this enemy too—Kolchak. We are only threatened by his other arm—Denikin.
Fresh labour-power for the administration of the state and to carry out the tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat are rapidly emerging in the shape of the worker and peasant youth who are most earnestly, zealously and fervidly learning, digesting the new impressions of the new order, throwing off the husk of old, capitalist and bourgeois democratic prejudices, and moulding themselves into even firmer Communists than the older generation.
But however rapidly this new stratum may be emerging, however rapidly it may be learning and maturing in the fire of the Civil War and the frantic resistance of the bourgeoisie, all the same it cannot, in the next few months, supply us with a trained staff for the administration of the state. Yet it is precisely the next few months, the summer and autumn of 1919, that count, for it is essential to decide the struggle against Denikin, and it must be done immediately.
In order to obtain a large number of well-trained workers to strengthen the war effort we must reduce in size a whole number of branches and institutions, not doing war work, or, rather, those not directly connected with the war, but doing Soviet work; we must reorganise on these lines (i.e., on the lines of reduction) all institutions and enterprises which are not absolutely indispensable.
Take, as a case in point, the Scientific and Technological Department of the Supreme Economic Council. This is a highly valuable institution, one indispensable for the building of full-scale socialism and to account for and distribute all our scientific and technological forces properly. But is such an institution absolutely indispensable? Of course not. To assign to it people who could and should be immediately employed in urgent and absolutely indispensable communist work in the army or directly for the army would, at the present juncture, be a downright crime.
There are quite a number of such institutions and departments of institutions in the centre and in the localities. In our efforts to achieve socialism in full we had to begin to set up such institutions immediately. But we would be fools or criminals, if, in the face of Denikin’s formidable attack, we were unable to reform our ranks in such a way as to suspend or reduce everything that is not absolutely indispensable.
We must not give way to panic or succumb to the organisational urge and must not reorganise any institutions nor close them down altogether nor—which is particularly harmful when being done in haste—must we begin to build new institutions. What we must do is to suspend for three, four or five months all institutions or departments of institutions, both in the centre and in the localities, which are not absolutely indispensable, or, if it is not possible to suspend them altogether, reduce them for the same (approximately) period, reduce them to the greatest possible extent, in other words, reduce the work to an absolutely indispensable minimum.
Inasmuch as our main purpose is to secure at once a large number of well-trained, experienced, devoted and tested Communists or socialist sympathisers for military work, we can incur the risk of temporarily leaving many of the heavily curtailed institutions (or departments of institutions) without a single Communist, of placing them exclusively in the hands of bourgeois executives. That is not a big risk, for it is only institutions which are not absolutely indispensable that are involved, and while there will certainly be a loss from the weakening of their (semi-suspended) activities, it will not be a great loss, and one which at any rate will not be fatal to us. Whereas insufficient energy in strengthening war work, and strengthening it immediately and considerably, may prove fatal to us. This must be clearly understood and all the necessary conclusions drawn from it.
If every manager of a government department or of a division of a government department in every gubernia, uyezd, etc., if every Communist nucleus, without losing a moment, asks, is such-and-such an institution, such-and-such a department absolutely indispensable, shall we perish if we suspend it or reduce its activities by nine-tenths and leave no Communists in it at all?—if the posing of this question is followed by speedy and resolute reduction of work and withdrawal of Communists (together with their absolutely reliable assistants among the sympathisers or non-party people), in a very short time we shall have hundreds upon hundreds of persons for work in the political departments of the army, as commissars, etc. And then we shall have a very good chance of defeating Denikin, just as we have defeated the much stronger Kolchak.
The front zone in the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic has greatly increased in the past few weeks and has undergone an extremely rapid change. This is a harbinger or concomitant of the decisive moment of the war, of its approaching concluding phase.
On the one hand, a vast front zone west of the Urals and in the Ural Mountains proper has become our front zone owing to the victories of the Red Army, the disintegration of Kolchak, and the growth of revolution in Kolchakia. On the other hand, an even larger zone near Petrograd and in the South has become a front zone owing to our losses, owing to the immense advance made by the enemy towards Petrograd and the advance from the South into the Ukraine and towards the centre of Russia.
Work in the front zone is assuming cardinal importance.
In the Cis-Urals area, where the Red Army, is rapidly advancing, there is a natural desire among army workers—commissars, members of political departments, etc.—as well as among local workers and peasants, to settle down in the newly won localities for constructive Soviet work, a desire which is the more natural, the greater the war fatigue and the more distressful the picture of the destruction wrought by Kolchak. But nothing could be more dangerous than to yield to this desire. It would threaten to weaken our offensive, to retard it, and to increase Kolchak’s chances of recovering his strength. It would be a downright crime against the revolution on our part.
Under no circumstances must a single extra worker be taken from the Eastern Army for local work![Unless there is urgent need none at all should be taken, but people should be transferred from the central gubernias! ] Under no circumstances can the offensive be weakened! The only chance we have of complete victory is for the entire population of the Urals area, who have experienced the horrors of Kolchak “democracy”, to take part in it to a man, and to continue the offensive into Siberia until the complete victory of the revolution in Siberia.
Let organisational work in the Cis-Urals and the Urals area be delayed, let it proceed less intensively, being done by local, young, inexperienced and weak forces alone. We shall not perish from that. But if we weaken the offensive against the Urals and Siberia we shall perish. We must strengthen that offensive with the forces of the insurgent workers in the Urals, with the forces of the Cis-Urals peasants, who have now learned to their cost the meaning of the “constituent” promises of the Menshevik Maisky and the Socialist-Revolutionary Chernov, and the real meaning of these promises, i.e., Kolchak.
To weaken the offensive against the Urals and Siberia would be to betray the revolution, to betray the cause of the emancipation of the workers and peasants from the Kolchak yoke.
It should be remembered in connection with the work in the front zone which has only just been liberated that the main task there is to make not only the workers, but the peasants as well, put their faith in Soviet power, to explain to them in practice that Soviet power means the power of the workers and peasants, and at once to take the right course, the course adopted by the Party from the experience of twenty months of work. We must not repeat in the Urals the mistakes which were sometimes made in Great Russia and which we are rapidly learning to avoid.
In the front zone outside Petrograd and in that vast front zone which has been growing so rapidly and menacingly in the Ukraine and in the South, absolutely everything must be put on a war footing, and all work, all efforts, all thoughts subordinated to the war and only the war. Otherwise it will be impossible to repulse Denikin’s attack. That is clear. And this must be clearly understood and fully put into practice.
Incidentally. A feature of Denikin’s army is the large number of officers and Cossacks in it. This is an element which, having no mass force behind it, is extremely likely to engage in swift raids, in gambles, in desperate ventures, with the object of sowing panic and causing destruction for destruction’s sake.
In fighting such a foe military discipline and military vigilance of the highest degree are necessary. To be caught napping or to lose one’s head means losing everything. Every responsible Party and Soviet worker must bear this in mind.
Military discipline in military and all other matters!
Military vigilance and strictness, and firmness in the adoption of all measures of precaution!
The vast conspiracy hatched at Krasnaya Gorka and whose purpose was the surrender of Petrograd has again brought forward and with particular emphasis the question of the military experts and of combating counter-revolution in the rear. There can be no doubt that the aggravation of the food and war situation is inevitably stimulating, and will continue to stimulate in the immediate future, still greater efforts by the counter-revolutionaries (in the Petrograd plot there participated the League of Regeneration, Cadets, Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries; the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries also participated, as a separate group, it is true, but they did participate nevertheless). Nor can there be any doubt that the military experts, like the kulaks, the bourgeois intellectuals, the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, will in the near future give a bigger proportion of traitors.
But it would be an irreparable mistake and unpardonable weakness of character to raise on this account the question of changing the fundamental principles of our army policy. Hundreds and hundreds of military experts are betraying us and will betray us; we will catch them and shoot them, but thousands and tens of thousands of military experts have been working for us systematically and for a long time, and without them we could not have formed the Red Army, which has grown out of the guerrilla force of evil memory, and has been able to score brilliant victories in the East. Experienced people who head our War Department rightly point out that where the Party policy in regard to the military experts and the extirpation of the guerrilla spirit has been adhered to most strictly, where discipline is firmest, where political work among the troops and the work of the commissars is conducted most thoroughly, there, generally speaking, the number of military experts inclined to betray us is the lowest, there the opportunities for those who are so inclined to carry out their designs are the slightest, there we have no laxity in the army, there its organisation and morale are best, and there we have the most victories. The guerrilla spirit, its vestiges, remnants and survivals have been the cause of immeasurably greater misfortune, disintegration, defeats, disasters and losses in men and military equipment in our army and in the Ukrainian army than all the betrayals of the military experts.
Our Party Programme, both on the general subject of bourgeois experts, and on the particular problem of one of their varieties, the military experts, has defined the policy of the Communist Party with absolute precision. Our Party is waging and will continue to wage “a relentless struggle against the pseudo-radical but actually ignorant and conceited opinion that the working people are capable of overcoming capitalism and the bourgeois social system without learning from bourgeois specialists, without making use of their services and without undergoing the training of a lengthy period of work side by side with them”.
At the same time, of course, the Party does not make the “slightest political concession to this bourgeois section of the population”, the Party suppresses and will continue “ruthlessly to suppress any counter-revolutionary attempts on its part”. Naturally, whenever such an “attempt” is made or becomes more or less probable, its “ruthless suppression” requires other qualities than the deliberateness, the cautiousness of an apprentice, which are demanded for lengthy training, and which the latter inculcates. The contradiction between the attitude of people engaged in the “lengthy period of work side by side” with the military experts, and the attitude of people absorbed in the direct task of “ruthlessly suppressing a counter-revolutionary attempt” of military experts might easily lead, and does lead, to friction and conflict. The same applies to the necessary changes of personnel, the shifting around sometimes of large numbers of military experts which is necessitated by instances of counter-revolutionary “attempts”, and all the more by large-scale conspiracies.
We settle, and will continue to settle, such friction and conflicts in the Party way, demanding the same of all the Party organisations and insisting that not the slightest damage to practical work, not the slightest delay in the adoption of essential measures, not a shadow of hesitation in the observance of the established principles of our military policy be tolerated.
If some of our Party bodies adopt an incorrect tone towards the military experts (as was recently the case in Petrograd), or if in some cases “criticism” of military experts turns into direct hindrance to the systematic and persistent work of employing them, the Party immediately rectifies, and will rectify, such mistakes.
The chief and principal means of rectifying them is to intensify political work in the army and among the mobilised, to improve the work of the commissars in the army, to have more highly qualified commissars, to raise their level, to have them carry out in practice that which the Party Programme demands and which only too often is carried out far too inadequately, i.e., “the concentration of all-round control over the commanders (of the army) in the hands of the working class”. Criticism of the military experts by outsiders, attempts to correct matters by “lightning raids” are too easy, and therefore hopeless and harmful. All those who recognise their political responsibility, who take the defects of our army to heart, let them join its ranks, either as privates or commanders, as political workers or commissars; let each work—every Party member will find a place suited to his abilities—inside the army organisation for its improvement.
The Soviet government has long been paying the greatest attention to making it possible for workers, and also peasants, Communists in particular, to master the art of war in all seriousness. This is being done at a number of establishments, institutions and courses, but still far too little is being done. There is still a lot of room here for personal initiative and personal energy. Communists, in particular, should persistently study the handling of machine guns, artillery, armoured vehicles, etc., for here our backwardness is more telling, here the enemy’s superiority, with his larger number of officers, is greater, here it is possible for an unreliable military expert to do grave harm, here the role of the Communist is important in the extreme.
Counter-revolution is raising its head in our rear and in our midst just as it did in July of last year.
Counter-revolution has been defeated, but by no means destroyed, and is naturally taking advantage of Denikin’s victories and of the aggravation of the food shortage. And, as always, in the wake of direct and open counter-revolution, in the wake of the Black Hundreds and the Cadets, whose strength lies in their capital, their direct connections with Entente imperialism, and their understanding of the inevitability of dictatorship and their ability to exercise it (on Kolchak lines)—in their wake follow the wavering, spineless Mensheviks, Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who embellish their deeds with words.
There should be no illusions on this score! What is the “nutritive medium” which engenders counter-revolutionary activities, outbreaks, conspiracies and so forth we know full well. The medium is the bourgeoisie, the bourgeois intelligentsia, the kulaks in the countryside, and, everywhere, the “non-party” public, as well as the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks. We must redouble, we must increase tenfold our watch over this medium. We must multiply tenfold our vigilance, because counter-revolutionary attempts from this quarter are absolutely inevitable, precisely at the present moment and in the near future. For this reason, too, repeated attempts to blow up bridges, to foment strikes, to engage in every kind of espionage and the like, are natural. All precautions of the most intense, systematic, repeated, wholesale and unexpected kind are essential in all centres without exception where the “nutritive medium” of the counter-revolutionaries has the least chance of existing.
In regard to the Mensheviks and the Right and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, we must draw a lesson from our most recent experience. Among their “periphery”, among the public which gravitates towards them, there is an undoubted shifting away from Kolchak and Denikin towards Soviet power. We have taken cognisance of this shift, and every time it has assumed any real shape we, on our part, have taken a step to meet it. This policy of ours we shall not change under any circumstances, and generally speaking, there will no doubt be an increase in the number of “migrants” from the type of Menshevism and Socialist-Revolutionarism which leans towards Kolchak and Denikin to the type of Menshevism and Socialist-Revolutionarism which leans towards Soviet power.
But at the present juncture the petty-bourgeois democrats, headed by the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, spineless and wavering as always, are watching to see which way the wind blows, and are swinging in the direction of the victor, Denikin. This is especially true of the “political leaders” of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries of the Mensheviks (of the type of Martov and Co.), of the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries (of the type of Chernov and Co.), and of their “literary groups” in general, whose members, apart from all else, are deeply offended at their political bankruptcy, and for whom hazardous ventures against Soviet power, therefore, have an attraction that is hardly likely to be eradicated.
We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the words and ideology of their leaders, by their personal integrity or hypocrisy. This is important from the standpoint of their individual biographies. But it is not important from the standpoint of politics, i.e., of the relations between classes, of the relations between millions of people. Martov and Co., “in the name of the Central Committee”, solemnly condemn their “activists” and threaten (eternally threaten!) to expel them from the party. But this by no means does away with the fact that the “activists” are the strongest of all among the Mensheviks, hide behind them, and carry on their work on behalf of Kolchak and Denikin. Volsky and Co. condemn Avksentyev, Chernov and Co., but this does not in the least prevent the latter from being stronger than Volsky, nor does it prevent Chernov from saying, “If it is not we who are to overthrow the Bolsheviks, and not now, then who is, and when?” The Left Socialist-Revolutionaries may “work independently” without any agreement with the reactionaries, with the Chernovs, but actually they are just as much allies of Denikin and pawns in his game as the late Left Socialist-Revolutionary Muravyov, the ex-commander-in-chief, who for “ideological” reasons opened the front to the Czechoslovaks and to Kolchak.
Martov, Volsky and Co. fancy themselves “superior” to both contending sides; they fancy themselves capable of creating a “third side”.
This desire, even when it is sincere, still remains the illusion of the petty-bourgeois democrat, who to this day, seventy years after 1848, has still not learned the most elementary thing, namely, that in a capitalist environment only the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie or the dictatorship of the proletariat is possible, and that no third course can exist. Martov and Co. will evidently die with this illusion. That is their affair. And it is our affair to remember that in practice vacillations on the part of these people are inevitable, today in the direction of Denikin, tomorrow in the direction of the Bolsheviks. And today we must do the task of this day.
Our task is to put the question bluntly. What is better? To ferret out, to imprison, sometimes even to shoot hundreds of traitors from among the Cadets, non-party people, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who “come out” (some with arms in hand, others with conspiracies, others still with agitation against mobilisation, like the Menshevik printers and railwaymen, etc.) against Soviet power, in other words, in favour of Denikin ? Or to allow matters to reach such a pass that Kolchak and Denikin are able to slaughter, shoot and flog to death tens of thousands of workers and peasants? The choice is not difficult to make.
That is how the question stands, and not otherwise.
Whoever has not yet understood this, whoever is capable of whining over the “iniquity” of such a decision, must be given up as hopeless and held up to public ridicule and shame.
The Soviet Republic is a fortress besieged by world capital. We can concede the right to use it as a refuge from Kolchak, and the right to live in it generally, only to those who take an active part in the war and help us in every way. Hence our right and our duty to mobilise the whole population for the war to a man, some for army work in the direct meaning of the term, others for subsidiary activities of every kind in aid of the war.
To carry this out in full, an ideal organisation is required. And since our government organisation is very far from perfect (which is not in the least surprising in view of its youth, its novelty and the extraordinary difficulties which accompany its development), to attempt at once and on a wide scale anything complete or even very considerable in this sphere would be a most dangerous indulgence in fantastic organisational schemes.
But much can be done in a partial way to bring us nearer to this ideal, and the “initiative” shown by our Party workers and Soviet officials in this respect is very, very far from enough.
It will suffice here to raise this question and to draw the attention of comrades to it. There is no need to give any specific instructions or proposals.
Let us only observe that the petty-bourgeois democrats who stand nearest to the Soviets and who call themselves, by force of habit, socialists—some of the “Left” Mensheviks and the like, for example—are particularly disposed to wax indignant at the”barbaric”, in their opinion, practice of taking hostages.
Let them wax indignant, but unless this is done war can not be waged, and when the danger grows acute the use of this means must be extended and multiplied in every sense. Not infrequently, for instance, Menshevik or yellow printers, higher railway employees or secret profiteers, kulaks, the wealthy sections of the urban (and rural) population and similar elements look upon defence against Kolchak and Denikin with an infinitely criminal and infinitely brazen attitude of indifference which grows into sabotage. Lists of such groups must be drawn up (or they must be compelled themselves to form groups in which each answers for everybody), and they must not only be put to work digging trenches, as is sometimes practised, but assigned to the most diverse and comprehensive duties for material aid to the Red Army.
The fields of the Red Army men will be better cultivated, the supply of food, tobacco and other necessities to the Red Army men will be better arranged, the danger to the lives of thousands upon thousands of workers and peasants resulting from a single conspiracy, etc., will be considerably reduced if we employ this method more widely, more comprehensively and more skilfully.
Summing up what was said above, we arrive at a simple conclusion. What is demanded immediately and in the course of the next few months of all Communists, of all class-conscious workers and peasants, of everyone who does not want to see Kolchak and Denikin win, is an extraordinary accession of energy; what is needed is “work in a revolutionary way”.
The starving, exhausted and worn-out Moscow railwaymen, both skilled and unskilled, have for the sake of victory over Kolchak inaugurated “communist subbotniks”—work without pay for several hours a week to continue until victory over Kolchak is complete—and have, moreover, developed unprecedented labour productivity, exceeding the usual productivity many times over; this goes to show that much, very much can still be done.
And we must do it.
Then we shall win.
Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks)