Decree on Transfer of Power and the Means of Production to the Toilers

Written: November 5/18, 1917
First Published: Sobranie Uzakonenii i Rasporiazhenii Rabochego i Krestianskogo Pravitelstva, 1917, No. 2, pp. 27-28.
Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, The Bolshevik revolution, 1917-1918: Documents and materials, Stanford University Press; London: H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934, p. 277-279.
Translated: Emanuel Aronsberg
Transcription/Markup: Zdravko Saveski
Online Version: 2017

Comrades--Workers, Soldiers, Peasants, All Toilers!

The workers' and peasants' revolution has won a decisive victory in Petrograd, having scattered and arrested the last remnants of a small number of Cossacks deceived by Kerensky. The revolution has triumphed in Moscow .... the cadets and other Kornilov supporters have signed peace. They are now disarmed, and the Committee [of Public Safety] has been dismissed. An overwhelming majority of soldiers in the trenches and peasants in the villages are supporting the new government in its peace decree and its decree to hand over immediately the land to the peasants. The victory of the workers' and peasants' revolution is assured; the majority of the people are for it.

It is easy to understand why the landowners, the capitalists, and the higher state officials who are closely bound up with the bourgeoisie--in one word, all the rich and those who held out their hands to the rich--should assume a hostile attitude toward the new revolution, should stand in its way, and should threaten to close the banks and to stop or to sabotage, directly or indirectly, the work of various institutions.

Every class-conscious worker knows full well that this opposition is inevitable, that the higher officials were selected to oppress the people, and that they are not going to give up their place without a struggle. The laboring classes will not allow themselves to be frightened, even for a minute, by the threats and strikes of these partisans of the bourgeoisie. The majority of the people are with us. With us are the majority of the toilers, and the oppressed of the world. Right is on our side. Our victory is certain. The opposition of the capitalists and higher officials will be broken. We will not deprive a single person of his property otherwise than by a special government law concerning the nationalization of banks and trusts. This law is now in preparation. Not a single laborer and toiler will lose one kopek; on the contrary, he will be helped. The government will impose no new taxes now and will aim at an open and strict accounting and control over the taxes heretofore levied.

In the name of these just demands the great majority of the people has rallied around the Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government.

Comrade Toilers! Remember that you yourself are now running the government. Unless you get together and take all affairs of the government into your own hands, no one will do it for you. Your Soviets are from now on all-powerful and all-decisive organs of government. Rally around your Soviets. Strengthen them. Take matters into your hands and don't wait for anyone [to tell you what to do]. Insist on the strictest revolutionary order. Crush mercilessly all anarchistic disturbances by drunkards, rowdies, counter-revolutionary cadets, Kornilovists, and their like.

Organize strict control over production and accountability for the products. Bring before the revolutionary tribunal everyone who dares to harm the cause of the people by sabotaging (spoiling, hindering, destroying) in industry, concealing grain and produce, interfering with transportation of grain, tearing up rail, post, and telegraph lines, or in other ways opposing the great cause of peace, of transferring the land to the peasants, and of assuming workers' control over production and distribution.

Comrade workers, soldiers, peasants, and all toilers! Take all local power into your own hands. Take and guard as the apple of your eye the grain, factories, implements, products, and transport--all these are from now on wholly yours; they are public property.

Gradually, with the approval and agreement of the majority of the peasants, guided by their practical experience and that of the workers, we shall move on firmly and resolutely to the victory of socialism, a victory which the advance guard of the workers of the more civilized countries will make secure and which is bound to give the people a lasting peace and freedom from all oppression and exploitation.


President of the Soviet of People's Commissars