J. V. Stalin

On The Present Situation

(Speech delivered at the Fifteenth Sitting of the Fourth Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.
April 17 (30), 1906)

Source : Works, Vol. 1, November 1901 - April 1907
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.

It is no secret to anyone that two paths are now discernible in the development of the social and political life of Russia: the path of pseudo-reform and the path of revolution. It is clear also that the big factory owners and the landlords, headed by the tsarist government, are taking the first path, while the revolutionary peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie, headed by the proletariat, are taking the second. The crisis that is developing in the towns and the famine in the countryside are making another upheaval inevitable—consequently, here vacillation is impermissible. Either the revolution is on the upgrade—and in that case we must carry the revolution through to the end—or it is on the downgrade, in which case we cannot and should not set ourselves such a task. Rudenko is wrong in thinking that this method of presenting the question is not dialectical. Rudenko is looking for a middle course; he wants to say that the revolution is and is not on the upgrade, and that it should and should not be carried to the end, because, in his opinion, dialectics makes it incumbent to present the question in this way! That is not our conception of Marxian dialectics. . . .

And so we are on the eve of another upheaval; the revolution is on the upgrade and we must carry it to the end. On this we are all agreed. But under what circumstances can we, and should we, do this? Under the hegemony of the proletariat, or under the hegemony of bourgeois democracy? This is where our main disagreement begins.

Comrade Martynov has said already in his Two Dictatorships that the hegemony of the proletariat in the present bourgeois revolution is a harmful utopia. The same idea ran through the speech he delivered yesterday. The Comrades who applauded him evidently agree with him. If that is the case, if in the opinion of the Menshevik comrades what we need is not the hegemony of the proletariat, but the hegemony of the democratic bourgeoisie, then it is self-evident that we should take no direct active part either in the organisation of an armed uprising, or in the seizure of power. Such is the "scheme" of the Mensheviks.

On the other hand, if the class interests of the proletariat lead to its hegemony, if the proletariat must be at the head of the present revolution and not drag at its tail, it goes without saying that the proletariat cannot refrain either from taking an active part in the organisation of an armed uprising or from seizing power. Such is the "scheme" of the Bolsheviks.

Either the hegemony of the proletariat, or the hegemony of the democratic bourgeoisie—that is how the question stands in the Party, that is where we differ.

* Minutes of the Unity Congress of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party held in Stockholm in 1906