Chairman: Comrade Teodorovich.
Secretaries: Comrades Boki and F. I. Drabkina.
Order of the day: Tseretelli’s proposal for unification.
STALIN: We ought to go. It is necessary to define our proposals as to the terms of unification. Unification is possible along the lines of Zimmerwald-Kienthal.
LUGANOVSKY: The Kharkov Committee is carrying on negotiations precisely along these lines.
MOLOTOV: Tseretelli wants to unite heterogeneous elements. Tseretelli calls himself a Zimmerwaldist and a Kienthalist, and for this reason unification along these lines is incorrect both politically and organizationally. It would be more correct to advance a definite internationalist socialist platform. We will unite a compact minority.
LUGANOVSKY (in refuting comrade Molotov) says: At the present time we are unaware of any disagreements. The Mensheviks abstained in the Soviet and spoke more strongly than did ... the Bolsheviks who came out against. Many disagreements have been outlived. It is out of place to underscore tactical differences. We can have a joint Congress with the Mensheviks, the Zimmerwaldists and Kienthalists.
SKRYPNIK: This debate is purely a verbal one. Unification is possible only with those who reject revolutionary defensism and who share our attitude toward the Provisional Government.
ZALUTSKY: If we enter into negotiations with the Mensheviks, we must put forward our own views. We proceed from a definite position. Only a petty bourgeois and not a social democrat can proceed from a mere desire for unification. There is disagreement between us on the following questions:
- the attitude to war;
- the evaluation and role of the capitalist forces in the revolution.
If we now slur over them, we will have a split within a week just the same. It is impossible to unite on the basis of a superficial Zimmerwald-Kienthal token. Teplovsky’s argument that the “provinces will compel us to go to the Right” – is wrong. He is a poor social democrat who will allow himself to become dissolved in the mass. It is necessary to lead the masses behind us. It is necessary to advance a definite program.
LAZURKINA: On the order of the day is the question whether or not we go to the meeting.
TEODOROVICH: There is nothing for us “to go with.”
STALIN: There is no use running ahead and anticipating disagreements. There is no party life without disagreements. We will live down trivial disagreements within the party. But there is one question – it is impossible to unite what cannot be united. We will have a single party with those who agree on Zimmerwald and Kienthal, i.e., those who are against revolutionary defensism. That is the line of demarcation. We must inform the Mensheviks that our desire is only the desire of the group meeting here and that it is not binding upon all Bolsheviks. We ought to go to the meeting, but not advance any platforms. Within the framework of what we desire is the convocation of a Conference on the basis of anti-defensism.
The motions of comrades Stalin and Molotov are voted upon.
The motion of comrade Stalin:
“1) To announce that we can unite only with those who hold the standpoint of Zimmerwald and Kienthal, i.e., anti-defensism;
“2) That the meeting be informative in character. Those participating in it are expressing the views of the group of the Bolsheviks, and is not binding on all.”
The motion of comrade Molotov:
“1) It is necessary to come out with a platform;
“2) Same as comrade Stalin’s.”
“1) To go to the meeting.
“2) To recognize the meeting as informative.”
LUGANOVSKY: Speaks in favor of creating a committee for the organization of a unity Congress.
MILIUTIN: Moves the creation of a Bureau for contact with the centers.
STALIN: Moves that we elect no Bureau for the convocation of a Conference of internationalists but instead propose to the Central Executive Committee that it communicate with the leaders of the internationalist-Mensheviks on the question of calling such a conference.
The motion of comrade Stalin is adopted by a majority of all votes against one.
LUGANOVSKY: Moves to convene a joint meeting of the Zimmerwaldists. (For – 14; against – l3.)
The following committee to carry on negotiations is elected: Comrades Stalin, Kamenev, Teodorovich, Nogin. Comrade Stalin is assigned to make the report at the joint session.
Chairman: Comrade Shliapnikov.
Secretaries: Comrades G.E. Boki and F.I. Drabkina.
The session opens with a discussion on the question of prolonging the Conference. The comrades from the provinces speak in favor of their earliest possible departure, since matters locally “have been left to the whim of fate.” The decision as expressed by the vote is to continue the Conference until the close of the Soviet Conference.
The agenda is next discussed: Which should be considered first, the questions involving the agenda as published in Pravda,or the questions which are being taken up at the Conference of Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, and in particular the question of the coalition government.
STASSOVA: Reports that Buryanov had sent telegrams far and wide with a proposal to demand the inclusion of Plekhanov in the ministry.
SHLIAPNIKOV: There is no need for us to occupy ourselves with a question raised by Buryanov.
The agenda is put to a vote.
Decided to take up first the questions that are being discussed at the Soviet Conference.
MANDELSTAM: The section has narrowed down the scope of its work and has taken up the question of the organization of the Soviets and of calling the Congress [of the Soviets].
In the section, the question was posed in the following man ner: At the second sitting, Voitinsky reviewed the discussion and proposed the following plan for the organization of the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.
Voitinsky has proposed joint representation for workers and soldiers. As regards the officer staff, the question was raised whether a separate officers’ organization ought to exist alongside of the workers’ and soldiers’ organization. This question was settled negatively: the progressive officers must enter into the existing Soviets, as is already being done locally. The Army organizations will have representation as small district organizations, and then as central organizations, but in the large working class centers a close tie-up between them and the workers’ organizations is desirable. The peasant organizations are to be created on the initiative of the peasantry, but in the district organs there must be the participation of peasant organizations.
The delegates of the local Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and the organizations of toiling peasantry are to participate in the regional Congresses.
Voitinsky proposed representation on the basis of 1 to 25,000; Bogdanov, proportional representation. The following decision was adopted: Up to 100,000, one representative for each 25,000; five from 150,000; above 200,000, six. In addition, the Congress will include the representatives of the organizations of the toiling peasantry from among the socialist parties. Voitinsky proposed to convene the Congress for the Russian May 1, but the representatives of the Army objected, feeling it desirable to arrange a demonstration on that day. It was decided that the Congress must be convened before the close of the season of bad roads, so that the Army is organized for the beginning of military activities. The Congress will elect an All-Russian Center which will be supplemented from time to time at the regional conferences. It is possible that a permanent body will be established – the Executive Committee. The composition of this Executive Committee has not been decided beforehand, the decision is left to the Congress. The calling of the Congress is entrusted to the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, which is to be supplemented with 10 delegates from the present Conference (Voitinsky insists on 5). This Organization Bureau is instructed to draw up the agenda and to transmit it to the organizations. Up to the convocation of the Congress, the Bureau will perform all the political work. This Bureau represents at the present time the entire revolutionary democracy.
I should like to explain the question of binding mandates. The Army representatives have arrived with binding man dates, which hinders the work. I consider this impermissible. I had a conversation with Voitinsky who considers this a debatable question. He is personally of the opinion that it is permissible.
DROBNIS (supplementary report): At the last session of the organizational section, the following question arose:
Inasmuch as the Government heads the democratic revolutionary Russia, the question arises that this Government should reflect the opinion of all Russia. A desire was expressed that those who are elected to the Central Executive Commit tee take up this question. In addition, a desire was expressed that the Executive Committee be supplemented with representatives from the oblosts.The army representatives expressed the desire that representatives from each army should be included (all told, about 20 men); others were in favor of representatives from each front (since there are four fronts, that would be 4 men). The question was left open.
TSVILLING: Is it the opinion of the section that representatives of officers should be elected?
MANDELSTAM: There must be no separate representatives from the officers. Should an officer be elected by the soldiers, he will be seated; otherwise, no.
NEVSEV: It has been decided that the Executive Committee will direct the political work in the country. But how?
MANDELSTAM: This question was raised and settled in the sense that the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, as represented by the Executive Committee, is deserving of complete confidence.
KOROVAIKOVA: Was the question of the reorganization of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies raised? For instance, in Ivanov-Voznesensk are seated representatives of cooperatives, of the committee for literacy and other non-working class organizations. As a result, in the Ivanovo-Voznesensk Soviet the workers are in a minority.
DELEGATE: Was the question raised of a goubernia organ?
MANDELSTAM: Not of a goubernia organ, only of an oblast organ.
ANOTHER DELEGATE: Our faction should introduce a motion to reorganize the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies. Since the majority regards the scope of the revolution as an embryo of the international revolution, was the question raised of inviting the representatives of the international proletariat?
TSVILLING: I am entirely unable to agree with the decision of the section that the officers’ collective has no right to delegate its own representatives to the Congress. This may arouse friction in the provinces. In Chelyabinsk the officers were allotted one fifth of the seats. If this decision is enforced, there will not be a single representative of the officers in the Soviet.
I move that we support another point of view, namely, that of giving the officers the right to elect directly into the Soviet of Deputies. Such a situation is being created as will compel the officers to organize their own Soviet of Deputies, which will he worse. In Chelyabinsk has been formed a Committee for Social Security. When it began to issue resolutions contrary to the decisions of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, the latter resolved not to permit it in its midst. There is no need to make enemies.
ZELIGSON: There are inadequacies in the plan. The organ ization is along goubernia lines at the present time. Our plan of organization should be made to correspond to that. In the provinces, within the goubernia committees, it is not we who function but absolutely alien elements. This can be over come only in the event that the revolutionary democracy is organized in goubernias. The organization must begin not with the oblast but with the goubernia.
KOMISSAROV: It seems to me that people here are unacquainted with the structure in the provinces. An important question has been overlooked the inclusion of representatives from the provinces, and this is very important. The legislative organ is – the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies of Petrograd. Since our Soviet of Workers’ Deputies represents a legislative organ for ourselves and for the Provisional Government to which it prescribes the laws, it is necessary to include in it the representatives from the provinces.
SMIRNOV (IVAN N.): In the military commission the opinion also prevailed that the officers should be seated in the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies. The speaker is against the participation of the officers in the Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. Let them organize themselves separately. Owing to this, in Tomsk the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies plays the decisive role. The Soviet consists of social democrats. Among the officers there are not more than 20 socialists. We have introduced the election of the representatives among the detachments. No orders are valid without the signature of the representatives of the soldiers. Among us the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies have taken all the power. Things are being managed magnificently. The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies decided to release 12,000 men for work in the fields, having calculated beforehand how many could be sent. When the head of the Omsk Military District began to put a spoke in the wheels, the Soviet demanded categorically that not a single order touching local conditions, should be issued without the sanction of the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies. It turned out that he was entirely uninformed about local conditions. The officers might be formed into special sections in party organizations and through them the entire remaining mass might be influenced. The Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies decided not to send out companies into the field until discipline was established. The officers were in favor of sending them; despite this, the head of the military district revoked the order, pending special disposition.
Unfortunately the question of separating out the officers will not be passed at the Conference. And yet, observing the officers at the Congress, it is necessary to state: Who is a chauvinist? – The officer. Who is an opportunist? – The officer.
In Siberia, at the beginning of April, elections took place to the city Dumas on the basis of Khvostki. We managed to get for the soldiers the right of participating in the elections on equal rights with the rest of the population. In Omsk for example there are 70,000 soldiers to the 50,000 adult population. Thus, in the Duma the soldiers turned out in majority.
As for the proposal to call the Congress on April 25, the speaker expresses himself in opposition. We will hardly manage to get back when we shall have to prepare for the All-Russian Congress. Why is this called for? The need to fortify the organizition? This can be done without a Congress. This will create a bad impression on the provinces and the disorganization will be aggravated.
VOZDVIZHENSKY: I also conclude from practical experience, although among us the officers are socialists, that it is necessary to separate out the officers. If we are to elect one to every 25,000, why should they, a minority, be specially allotted one-fifth of the seats? There are separate military committees into which officers also enter.
OKHLONIN: Is in favor of giving the officers a vote on an equal footing with the soldiers. If the officers are revolutionary, the soldiers themselves will elect them. Sees no reason for separating out the officers into a special caste.
As regards the date set for the calling of the Congress, it should be postponed: Russia is an enormous country and it is impossible to get a congress together quickly. The provinces will underscore that the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ Deputies deserves confidence and this will fortify its influence. If there is a postponement for two weeks or a month, we shall be able to determine whether it is feasible to hold a Congress.
Motion: To close the speakers’ list on the general discussion.
DELEGATE: I move that discussion on this question be closed and that we proceed to the general political discussion on the attitude to the Provisional Government.
SKRYPNIK: Our attitude to the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies is expressed in the resolution which we adopted.
TEONOROVICH: At the Congress the organizational question will be discussed. It is therefore necessary to close discussion and take up the resolution of the organizational section, take it up article by article, and introduce changes and amendments.
The following two motions are put to a vote:
The second motion is carried.
MANDELSTAM: This question is closely bound up with the question of the participation of the officers. The officers are undoubtedly opportunist and reactionary. If they are allowed to organize separately, they will organize into a hostile organization. If organized jointly with the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies, their influence will be nullified by the influence of the class conscious elements.
TSVILLING: I emphatically disagree with comrade Smirnov. In the nature of things, if there is a separate officers’ organization, a Soviet of Officers’ Deputies alongside of the Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies, it will engender friction. I do not know why the officers are a reactionary element. These are the self-same service men and not a special caste. The officers, of course, are not the proletariat, but neither are the soldiers. It is stated that among the officers there are opportunists. But there are any number of opportunists among other groups as well. If we were to come to Chelyabinsk with such a decision, the representatives of the party would have to leave the Soviets. In most of the cities, in the provinces, the same mood prevails. The formal argument that this is a Soviet of Soldiers’ Deputies and that therefore the officers have no place there, is unsound. It is necessary to give the officers the right to delegate their representatives to the Soviets.
Motion: One speaker for, one speaker against, on each amendment.
SMIRNOV: The more officers there will be, the more opportunist will be the Soviets. In our Bolshevik Conference there is not a single officer but many soldiers. The conciliationist moods will predominate. It is necessary to play on the democratic feelings of the officers – they must not be given a special number of seats.
TEODOROVICH: We ought not to raise the question of a separate organization of officers. New directives for reconstruction in the provinces ought not to be issued.
TSVILLING: Introduces a motion that the officers send in delegates according to a fixed proportion.
SMIRNOV: The officers send delegates on an equal basis.
TEODOROVICH: Moves that the matter be left as is in article 1.
Article 1 is put to a vote and is adopted by a majority.
KOROVAIKOVA: Moves for the reorganization of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies in such a manner as will not allow the representatives of non-proletarian elements more seats than the workers, in the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies.
TOLSTOV: In favor of this motion because in Stavropol a resolution was passed against giving socialists seats on the ground that they obstruct the work and that there are many provocateurs among them. Comrade Tolstov moves to instruct the center to work out a definite plan, and to effect reorganization in accordance with this plan.
MANDELSTAM: Opposed to closing the doors to the representatives of non-proletarian organizations inasmuch as the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies are the organs of revolutionary democracy.
Korovaikova’s motion is withdrawn.
Article 2 is adopted unanimously.
ZELIGSON: Proposes an amendment: To create goubernia Soviets of Workers’ Deputies. It will then be possible to exert an influence on the goubernia organs.
Article 3 is adopted.
TEODOROVICH: Introduces an amendment: Small organizations numbering less than 25,000 members are combined during elections.
Article 4 adopted.
Article 5 is adopted with the following amendment: To call the Congress not later than May 15, and not earlier than May 1.
VASSILCHENKO: Introduces an amendment: “This Executive Committee is to act in close contact with the central bodies of the socialist parties.”
TEODOROVICH: Is opposed to the amendment, not because I disagree with it in essence, but because such things are carried out in practise but not made public. To broadcast such a declaration is to give grist to the mill of all those who are conducting an agitation against the Soviets.
The amendment is rejected.
Article 6 is adopted.
Article 7 is adopted.
OKHLONIN and MANDELSTAM: Move that we fight for increasing the number of representatives from the provinces – even if only up to 15. For example, to include the representatives of the oblast organizations.
TEODOROVICH: Moves to elect a Committee entrusted with carrying on negotiations in the name of the faction with the Presidium of the Conference as to the number and composition of the representatives from the provinces.
Teodoronich’s motion adopted.
Article 8 adopted.
Article 9 adopted with the following amendment: “Immediately and in agreement with the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ Deputies.”
SMIRNOV: Introduces a supplementary amendment: “That a central organ of the Soviets be issued by the Bureau.”
We are electing a Bureau to serve for a whole month, but we have no organ. “The Petrograd Izvestia of Soviet of Workers’ Deputies” is not authoritative.
TSVILLING: The composition of the Conference is an accidental one and we might get an accidental editorial board; therefore it is possible that undesirable views might be advanced.
The amendment was rejected.
The draft as a whole is accepted.
A committee is elected to negotiate with the Presidium:
A question is raised concerning the candidates to the Organization Committee for convoking the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies. Candidates to be elected from each oblast, and two representatives from each party.
LUGANOVSKY: Moves that we fight for tabling the election to the next day, when the organizational centers will be selected, and not to have elections now.
SAVELIEV: Moves that the representatives of the oblasts be left to designate their own candidates.
STASSOVA: The Bureau of the Central Committee proposes to designate two comrades representing the oblasts and one candidate comrade Teodorovich.
ELIAVA: I can understand a proposal to elect two representatives from the provinces. But I do not understand how we can elect representatives from the oblast.
TEODOROVICH: The organizational section has worked out a draft of a resolution to be presented to the Conference of the Soviet Deputies. The articles have been discussed and adopted as a whole. We are interested in the last article:
The organizational section proposes to elect from the Conference a body of ten to enter into the Executive Committee and to participate in the calling of the Congress, to direct its convening, and to strengthen its influence. The question is how many and whom to elect. We are entitled to two places out of ten (the Bolshevik faction represents one-fourth of the Congress). We must designate these two. We have already decided that the Committee of 3 that has been elected will insist on elections not taking place on an oblast basis. But even should elections take place according to oblasts, the candidates will in every case be from some oblast. Right now the immediate task is to designate two candidates. The same committee will try to increase the number of representatives from 10 to 15; we will then have 4 seats.
The following are elected: Teodorovich, Serebriakov.
On the order of the day: The Question of Unification and Report of comrade Lenin.
Chairman: Comrade Zinoviev.
Secretaries: G.E. Boki and F. I. Drabkina.
LENIN: My report and the question of unification may be combined. I apologize for coming late.
AVILOV: The general meeting of the social democrats is scheduled for one o’clock. It is therefore necessary to set the minimum time for the session of the Bolshevik faction.
DELEGATE: The delegates from the provinces have especially remained to be present at this session which will either unite or disunite.
ZINOVIEV: Moves to get in touch with the organizers of the joint meeting.
VOITINSKY: Moves to refer the report to the joint meeting.
Comrade Teodorovich is designated to get in touch with the organizers of the joint meeting.
I have outlined several theses which I will supply with some brief comments. I was unable, because of the lack of time, to prepare a thorough and systematized report.
The fundamental question is our attitude to the war. The essential thing that confronts one when reading the papers in Russia and observing conditions here, is the triumph of defensism, the victory of the traitors to socialism, the deception of the masses by the bourgeoisie. One is hit between the eyes by the fact that here in Russia the same situation exists in the socialist movement as in other countries: defensism, “the defense of the Fatherland.” The difference is this, that nowhere is there the degree of freedom we have, and upon us, therefore, falls the responsibility before the whole inter national proletariat. The new Government, like the preceding one, is imperialist, despite the promise of a republic. It is imperialist through and through.
Thesis I. In our attitude to the war, which on Russia’s part, even under the new Government of Lvov and Co., unconditionally remains a predatory imperialist war, owing to the capitalist nature of this Government, it is impermissible to make the slightest concession to “revolutionary defensism.”
The conscious proletariat may give its assent to a revolutionary war actually justifying revolutionary defensism only under the following conditions: a) the transfer of power into the hands of the proletariat and its ally, the poorest section of the peasantry; b) the renunciation of all annexations in deeds and not merely in words; c) a complete break, in practice, with all interests of capitalism.
In view of the indubitable honesty of the mass of the rank and file representatives of revolutionary defensism who accept the war only out of necessity and not for the sake of conquests, in view of their being duped by the bourgeoisie, it is necessary with especial detail, persistence and patience, to explain to them their mistake, to explain the indissoluble tie between capitalism and imperialist war, to prove that, without the overthrow of capitalism, it is impossible to conclude the war with a really democratic, non-oppressive peace.
This view must be widely propagated among the army units in the field.
In our attitude toward the war even under the new Government, which remains an imperialist government, it is impermissible for us to make the slightest concession to defensism. The masses regard this thing from a practical, not a theoretical, standpoint. They say: “We want to defend the Fatherland, but not to seize foreign territory.” When may we consider a war as our own? When there is a complete renunciation of annexations.
The masses approach this question not theoretically but practically. Our mistake lies in our theoretical approach. The class-conscious proletariat may give its consent to a revolutionary war that really justifies revolutionary defensism. To the representatives of the mass of the soldiers the question must be put in a practical way, for there is no other way. We are not at all pacifists. But the fundamental question is: Which class is waging the war? The capitalist class, tied to the banks, cannot wage any but an imperialist war. The working class can. Steklov, Chkheidze, have forgotten everything. In reading the resolution of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, one is amazed that people who call themselves socialists could have adopted such a resolution.
What is peculiar in Russia is the gigantically swift transition from savage violence to the most delicate deceit. The fundamental condition is the renunciation of annexation of in words but in action. Rech is yowling over the declaration of the Sotsial-Democrat that the incorporation of Courland into Russia is annexation. But annexation is the act of incorporating any country distinguished by national peculiarities every incorporation of a nation against its will, regardless of whether it has a language of its own, so long as it feels itself to be a distinct nation. This is a prejudice of the Great Russians, cultivated for centuries.
The war can be terminated only through a complete break with international capitalism. The war was caused not by separate individuals but by international finance capita!. To break with international capitalism is no easy matter, but neither is it an easy matter to put an end to the war. It is infantile and naive to suppose that the war can be stopped at will by one side ... Zimmerwald, Kienthal ... Upon us more than upon anybody else devolves the duty of defending the honor of international socialism. The difficulty of the approach ...
In view of the unquestionable prevalence of defensist moods among wide layers of the masses who accept the war only out of necessity and not for the sake of conquests, we must explain to them in special detail, patiently, insistently, that it is impossible to terminate the war by a non-oppressive peace, unless capitalism is overthrown. It is necessary to develop this idea widely, in broadest possible scope. The soldiers demand a concrete answer to the question – how to end the war. But to promise the people that we can end the war solely through the good intentions of a few individuals – that is political charlatanism. We must warn the masses. The revolution is a difficult thing. Mistakes are unavoidable. Our mistake is that we have not exposed revolutionary defensism to its very roots. Revolutionary defensism is treason to socialism. It is not enough to limit ourselves to ... The mistake must be admitted. What to do? We must explain. How give to those who do not understand what socialism is ... We are no charlatans. We must base ourselves only on the consciousness of the masses. Even if it is necessary to remain in a minority – so he it. It is a good thing to give up for a time the position of leadership; we must not be afraid to remain in the minority. When the masses announce that they do not want conquests, I believe them. When Guchkov and Lvov say they do not want conquests, they are deceivers! When a worker says that he wants the defense of the country, what speaks in him is the instinct of the oppressed.
Thesis II. The peculiarity of the present moment in Russia consists in the transition from the first stage of the revolution, which gave power to the bourgeoisie on account of the inadequate organization of the proletariat, to its second stage, which must give power to the proletariat and the poorest layers of the peasantry.
This transition is characterized, on the one hand, by a maximum of legality (Russia is now the freest of all the belligerent countries in the world); and, on the other hand, by the absence of oppression of the masses, and finally, by their trusting and not class-conscious attitude to the government of the capitalists, the worst enemies of peace and socialism. This peculiarity of the present moment demands of us an ability to adapt ourselves to the special conditions of party work among the unprecedently vast masses of the proletariat just awakened to political life.
Why didn’t you seize power? Steklov says it was because of this and that, and something or other. That’s nonsense. The reason is that the proletariat is not sufficiently conscious and sufficiently organized. That we have to acknowledge. The material force is in the hands of the proletariat, but the bourgeoisie was conscious and ready. That is the monstrous fact. But it is necessary to acknowledge frankly, and say to the people straight out that we did not seize power because we were unorganized and not conscious.
Millions are being impoverished; millions killed. The most advanced countries are perishing, and in consequence they will be confronted with the question.
The transition from the first stage to the second – the transition of power to the proletariat and the peasantry is characterized, on the one hand, by a maximum of legality (Russia is now the freest, the most advanced country in the world); and, on the other, by a trusting and not conscious attitude of the masses toward the Government. Even our Bolsheviks show confidence in the Government. That can only be explained by intoxication incidental to revolution. That is the death of socialism. You, comrades, have confidence in the government. If that’s your position, our ways part. I prefer to remain in the minority. One Liebknecht is worth more than 110 defensists of the Steklov and Chkeidze type. If you are in sympathy with Liebknecht and extend even a finger to the defensists – this will be a betrayal of international socialism. We must speak to the people without using Latin words. We must speak simply, intelligibly. They have the right ... we must adapt ourselves ... we must make the transition ... but we must do it. Our line will prove right. If we draw away from these people, all the oppressed will come to us, because the war will bring them to us. They have no other way out.
Thesis III. No support whatever to the Provisional Government. We must explain the utter falsity of all its promises, particularly its renunciation of annexations. There must be exposure instead of the impermissible illusion – breeding “demand” that this Government, the government of the capitalists, cease being imperialistic.
Pravda demands of the Government that it renounce annexations. To demand of the government of the capitalists that it renounce annexations – nonsense! Flagrant mockery of ...
From the scientific standpoint, it is such a fog of deceit, which the entire international proletariat, the entire ... It is high time to admit the mistake. Have done with greetings and resolutions! It’s time to get down to business. We must proceed with a business-like, sober ...
Thesis IV. Recognition of the fact that in the majority of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies our party constitutes a minority, and as yet a weak minority, in the face of the bloc of all the petty bourgeois opportunist elements, from the Populist socialists and the SR’s down to the Organization Committee, Steklov, etc., etc. (Chkheidze, Tseretelli, etc.) – who have yielded to the influence of the bourgeoisie, and have been extending this influence to the proletariat.
We must explain to the masses that the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies is the only possible form of revolutionary government; and that, therefore, our task is, while this Government is submitting to the influence of the bourgeoisie, a patient, systematic and persistent explanation to the masses of the error of their tactics, an explanation especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses.
So long as we remain in the minority, we carry on the work of criticism and of explaining errors, advocating all along the necessity of transferring the entire state power to the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies, so that the masses may learn from experience how to rid themselves of their errors.
We Bolsheviks are in the habit of adopting a maximum of revolutionism. But that is not enough. It is necessary to analyze ... The real government is the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies. To think otherwise is to lapse into anarchism. It is conceded that in the Soviet our party is in the minority. We must explain to the masses that the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies is the only possible government, never seen in the world before, except for the Commune. What if the majority in the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies holds the defensist point of view? That cannot be helped. For us there remains only to explain patiently, insistently, systematically the error of their tactics.
So long as we are in the minority, we carry on the work of criticism, in order to free the masses from deceit. We do not want the masses to believe us just on our say-so; we are not charlatans. We want the masses to he freed by experience from their mistakes.
The Manifesto of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies – there isn’t a word in it imbued with class-consciousness. There is nothing to it but phrases. The one thing that can ruin everything revolutionary is the phrase this flattery of the revolutionary people. All of Marxism teaches us not to succumb to the revolutionary phrase, especially at the moment when it is particularly current.
Thesis V. Not a parliamentary republic – a return to it from the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies would be a step back ward – but a Republic of Soviets of Workers’, Farmhands’ and Peasants’ Deputies, from top to bottom.
Abolition of the police, the army and the officialdom.
Salaries of all functionaries not to exceed the average wage of a competent worker; all functionaries to be elected and to be subject to recall at any time.
This is the lesson taught us by the French Commune, a lesson forgotten by Kautsky, but taught by the workers in the years 1905 and 1917. The experience of these years teaches us that ... we must not permit the re-establishment of the police, we must not permit the re-establishment of the old army. We must change our program; it is antiquated. The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies is a step toward socialism. No police, no army, no officialdom. The Constituent Assembly must be convoked – but by whom? Resolutions are written to be filed or scrapped. I would be glad to see the Constituent Assembly convened tomorrow, but it is naive to believe that Guchkov will convoke the Constituent Assembly. All this prattle about compelling the Provisional Government to convoke the Constituent Assembly is hollow, wholesale deception. There were revolutions in the past, but the police has remained; there were revolutions in the past, but all the functionaries and the rest have remained. Therein lies the reason for the ruin of revolutions. The Soviets of Workers’ Deputies is the only government that can convoke this Assembly. We have all embraced the Soviets but we have failed to grasp their meaning. From this form of government we are pulling back to the International, which drags at the tail of the bourgeoisie.
A bourgeois republic cannot solve the question [of war], because the latter can be settled only on an international scale. We do not promise to emancipate, but we say that only under this form (Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies) can this be done. No other government but that of the Soviet of Workers’ and Farmhands’ Deputies. If we talk about the Commune, we will not make ourselves understood. But if we say: Replace the police by the Soviets of Workers’ and Farmhands’ Deputies, learn how to rule, there is no one to stop you – (this will be understood). The art of ruling cannot be gleaned from any books. You must experiment, make mistakes and learn how to rule.
Thesis VI. In the agrarian program – the center of gravity must be shifted to the Soviets of Farmhands’ Deputies. The confiscation of all landlord estates. Nationalization of all lands in the country. The management of the lands to be in the hands of the local Soviets of Farmhands’ and Peasants’ Deputies. Creation of Soviets of Deputies from among the poorest peasantry. Creation of model establishments out of large estates (from 100 to 300 dessiatins, depending on local and other conditions and in accordance with the estimates of local institutions) under the control of the Soviet of Farmhands’ Deputies and at public expense.
What is the peasantry? We do not know. There are no statistics, but we do know that it is a force.
If they take the land, rest assured that they will not give it up to you, nor will they ask your permission. The axis of the program has shifted. The center of gravity is the Soviets of Farmhands’ Deputies. If the revolution is not settled by the Russian peasant, it will be settled by the German worker.
The mouzhik from Tambov.
No payment for one dessiatin; one ruble for the second; two rubles for the third. We will take the land, and the landlord will never be able to get it back.
Agriculture on a communal basis.
It is necessary to create separate Soviets of Deputies from among the poorest peasants. There is the mouzhik, the middle peasant and the agricultural laborer. Even if the latter is given land, he will be unable to build up a farm anyway. It is necessary to create model establishments out of large estates, run on a communal basis, with the management in the hands of the Soviets of Farmhands’ Deputies.
There are large estates.
Thesis VII. Immediate merger of all the banks in the country into one general national bank, over which the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies must have control.
“A bank is a form of social accounting” (Marx). The war teaches economics. Everybody knows that the banks plunder the national forces. Banks are the nervous system, the focal point of national economic life. We cannot take the banks into our own hands, but we advocate their merger under the control of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies.
Thesis VIII. Not the “introduction” of socialism as our immediate task, but the immediate placing of social production and the distribution of goods under the control of the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies.
Life and the revolution are pushing the Constituent Assembly into the background. It is not important who writes the laws down on paper, but it is important who puts them into effect. A dictatorship of the proletariat exists, but nobody knows what to do with it (Marx ... only that which has matured into actuality). Capitalism has become state capitalism.
Thesis IX. The party tasks:
1. Immediate party Congress.
2. Change the party program, chiefly:
- on imperialism,
- on the attitude to the state, and our demand for a “Commune-State,”*
- amend our outdated minimum program.
3. Change the party name.
Thesis X. Rebuilding of the International.
We must take the initiative in the creation of a revolutionary International, an International against the social-chauvinists and against the “center.”
The Soviet of Workers’ Deputies has been created; it wields enormous influence. Everyone instinctively sympathizes with it. In this instinct there is more revolutionary thought than in all the revolutionary phrases. If the Soviets of Workers’ Deputies prove able to take the reins into their own hands – the cause of freedom is secure. Even if you write the most ideal laws – who will execute them? The self-same functionaries, but they are connected with the bourgeoisie.
We must not say to the masses “realize socialism”, but “adopt” socialism. Capitalism has advanced; war capitalism is different from pre-war capitalism.
On the basis of tactical conclusions it is necessary to turn to practical measures. It is necessary to call a party Congress immediately; it is necessary to revise the program. A great deal in it is antiquated. It is necessary to change the minimum program.
Personally and speaking for myself alone, I propose that we change the name of the party, that we call it the Communist Party. The people will understand the name “Communist.”The majority of the official social democrats have betrayed socialism. Liebknecht is the only social democrat. You are afraid to go back on your old memories? But to change our linen, we ’ve got to take off the dirty shirt and put on a clean one.
Why reject the entire experience of the world struggle?
The majority of the social democrats all over the world have betrayed socialism and have gone over to the side of their governments (Scheidemann, Plekhanov, Guesde). What to do to get Scheidemann to agree? This point of view is the death of socialism. To send a radio telegram to Scheidemann [proposing] the termination of the war ... is deceit.
The name social democrat is inaccurate. Don’t hang on to an old name which is rotten through and through. Have the will to build a new party ... and all the oppressed will come to you.
In Zimmerwald and Kienthal the Center, Rabochaya Gazeta, predominated. We shall prove to you what the entire experience has shown. We declare that we have formed a left and have broken with the center. Either you talk of the International, and then you must carry on ... or you ...
The Left Zimmerwald tendency exists in all countries of the world. The masses must realize that socialism has split throughout the world. The defensists have renounced socialism. Liebknecht alone ... the future is his.
I hear that in Russia there is a trend toward unification. Unification with the defensists – that is a betrayal of socialism. I think that it is better to stand alone like Liebknecht – one against a hundred and ten.
BAGDATIEV: Proposes not to open discussion but to settle the question of the meeting that is now taking place, and if it is decided not to go, then the meeting can continue.
SKRYPNIK: The report of comrade Lenin must provide the answer to the question as to whether we should go there or not.
VOITINSKY: In the report of comrade Lenin a mass of questions were touched upon that were not touched at the conference of the Bolsheviks. A discussion is taking place both among the Bolsheviks as well as among the Mensheviks; it would he interesting therefore to place the theses for discussion before the joint meeting. I propose that we go to the joint meeting, which binds nobody.
The discussion is of importance to the delegates from the provinces.
The faction proceeds to the meeting hall in the Tauride Palace.
“Whereas the Provisional Government is composed of the representatives of moderate bourgeois classes, hound up with the interests of Anglo-French imperialism;
“The program it has proclaimed is being only partially realized by it and only under the pressure of the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies;
“The organizing forces of the counter-revolution, covering themselves with the banner of the Provisional Government, with the open toleration on the part of the latter, have already launched an attack against the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies;
“The Soviets of Soldiers’ and Workers’ Deputies are the only organs of the will of the revolutionary people;
“The Conference calls upon the revolutionary democracy:
“1) To exercise a vigilant control over the activities of the Provisional Government in the center and in the prov inces, urging it on toward a most energetic struggle for the complete liquidation of the old regime;
“2) To fuse around the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, the only ones capable, in an alliance with other progressive forces, of repelling the attempts of Czarist and bourgeois counter-revolution, and of intrenching and extend ing the conquests of the revolutionary movement.”
Last updated on: 4.4.2007