E. Varga


The Slogan of the Workers’
and Peasants’ Government

(5 July 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 23 No. 48 [28], 5 July 1923, pp. 476–477.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The new slogan of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government is the most important result of the session of the Enlarged Executive of the C.I. The necessity of broadening the basis of our movement follows from the nature of the international situation. The bourgeoisie has learned much from the continued existence of the Russian Soviet Government. It will not repeat the errors which it made when the Russian Soviet Government arose, and when the Hungarian Soviet Republic came into being. It will not be “taken by surprise” again; it will not again ridicule the proletariat’s will to power and capacity for political leadership, as childish and impossible. We must reckon with the fact that the bourgeoisie will offer the most determined and bitter resistance to every fresh attempt at seizure of power.

The industrial and agricultural proletariat alone is, under these circumstances, not powerful enough to defeat the bourgeoisie, particularly in view of the fact that certain sections of the proletariat are pressed into the service of the bourgeoisie by the social democrats. The revolutionary proletariat must find allies in the camp of the non-proletarians.

Of the various non-proletarian classes who are potential allies, the most important is the working peasant class. It is important for the reason that the working peasant is no exploiter. Although the small and middle peasants possess property, they do not employ it as capital, and do not exploit any workers with it. Their means of production serve as the natural basis for the application of their own labor power, not as a means of exploiting the labor of others

Here we have at once indicated to us those strata of the peasants upon whom we may count as allies, our allies can only be those who are not exploiters, that is, those who do not regularly employ others to work for them.

On the other hand, the peasant class is well adapted to be our ally, since it is likewise the victim of capitalist exploitation. This exploitation is practised not directly, as in the case of the proletariat, but indirectly. Trustified finance capital artificially raises the price of industrial products, artificially lowers the price of agricultural products, and in this way indirectly exploits the peasants; moreover, it pockets, in the form of loan capital, of a monopoly of the means of transport, and of usurious commercial transactions, a considerable part ol the income earned by the working peasants. Proletariat and peasantry are thus confronted by a common enemy; this circumstance affords a real basis for a class alliance.

The question now arises: how can the tactic of co-operation with the working peasantry be reconciled with the dictatorship of the proletariat? We must here insist that the peculiarities of the peasants’ mode of production, the fact that the peasants of necessity live scattered over wide areas, and that they consume a great part of their products in their own homes, involve a much looser connection of this class with the economic system as a whole, than is the case with the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. Their mode of production renders the peasants incapable of large-scale organization such as is necessary to rule a country. This explains the fact that, during the whole course of history, the peasantry has never, in any country, been the ruling class for long. During the present historical epoch the peasantry must be led either by the bourgeoisie or by the proletariat. The question for the peasants is: Are they to be led, but not exploited, by the workers – as in Soviet Russia, or are they to be led and exploited by the capitalists – as in the capitalist countries? If we put the question thus clearly to the peasants, if we are capable of showing them plainly the daily conflict of interests between working peasants and agrarian capitalists, then there can be no doubt that it will be possible for us to win broad masses of working peasants for the struggle against the bourgeoisie, and, after the victory over it, for the defence of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The slogan of the “Workers’ and Peasants’ Government”, the practical significance of which is a “government of the workers and working peasants”, will be a lever for the progress of the Communist revolutionary movement.

Last updated on 3 September 2021