J. V. Stalin

The Constituent Assembly elections1

July 27, 1917

Source : Works, Vol. 3, March - October, 1917
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.

The Constituent Assembly Election campaign has begun. The parties are already mobilizing their forces. The prospective candidates of the Cadets are already touring the country, sounding their chances of success. The Socialist-Revolutionaries have convened a conference of gu-bernia peasant representatives in Petrograd for the purpose of "organizing" the elections. Another group of Narodniks is convening a congress of the All-Russian Peasants' Union 2 in Moscow for the same purpose. Simultaneously, non-party "Garrison Soviets of Peasants' Deputies" are spontaneously springing up, for the purpose, among other things, of seeing to it that the election campaign is effectively conducted in the countryside. For the same purpose numerous societies are being formed by workers originating from the same rural areas, and are sending persons and literature to the villages. Lastly, individual factories are sending special delegates to carry on election propaganda in rural areas. This quite apart from the innumerable individual "delegates," mainly soldiers and sailors, who are travelling the country and bringing the peasants "news from the towns."

Evidently, the significance of the moment and the cardinal importance of the Constituent Assembly are appreciated by the broadest sections of the population. And everyone feels that the rural districts, which represent the majority of the population, will play the decisive role, and that it is there that all available forces should be sent. All this, coupled with the fact that the agricultural labourers—the principal support of our Party in the rural districts—are scattered and unorganized, greatly adds to the difficulty of our work in the countryside. Unlike the urban workers, who are the most highly organized section of the urban population, the rural labourers are the most unorganized. The Soviets of Peasants' Deputies chiefly organize the middle and well-to-do sections of the peasantry, who are naturally inclined to compromise "with the liberal landlord and capitalist." It is they, too, who lead the proletarian and semi-proletarian elements of the rural districts and bring them under the influence of the compromising Trudovik and Socialist-Revolutionary parties. The inadequate development of agricultural capitalism and of the class struggle in the countryside creates favourable conditions for such a compromising policy.

The immediate task of our Party is to deliver the poorer strata of the peasantry from the influence of the Trudoviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries and to unite them with the urban workers in one fraternal family.

Developments themselves are working in this direction, step by step exposing the futility of the policy of compromise. The task of our Party workers is to intervene in the Constituent Assembly elections to the utmost for the purpose of disclosing the perniciousness of this policy, and thus help the poorer strata of the peasantry to rally around the urban proletariat.

For this purpose it is necessary immediately to create nuclei of our Party in the rural areas and link them closely with the Party committees in the towns. We must form Party groups of poor peasants, men and women, in every volost, in every uyezd, in every constituency. These groups must be connected with our committees in the industrial centres of the particular gubernia. It should be the duty of these committees to supply the groups with the necessary election material, literature and cadres.

Only in this way and in the course of the campaign itself will it be possible to create real unity between the proletarians of town and country.

We are opposed to agreement with the capitalists and landlords, because we know that the interests of the workers and peasants can only suffer from such agreement.

But that does not mean that we are opposed to all agreements in general.

We are in favour of agreement with the non-party groups of propertyless peasants which life itself is impelling on to the path of revolutionary struggle against the landlords and capitalists.

We are in favour of agreement with the non-party organizations of soldiers and sailors which are imbued with confidence, not in the rich but in the poor, not in the government of the bourgeoisie but in the people, and, above all, in the working class. To repel such groups and organizations because they cannot or do not want to merge with our Party would be unwise and harmful.

That is why our election campaign in the rural districts must aim at finding a common language with such groups and organizations, at working out a common revolutionary platform, at drawing up joint lists of candidates with them in all the constituencies, which should include not "professors" and "savants," but peasants, soldiers and sailors who are prepared staunchly to back the demands of the people.

Only in that way will it be possible to rally the broad strata of the rural toiling population around the leader of our revolution, the proletariat.

There is no need to make a long search for such non-party groups, for they are springing up continually everywhere. And they will continue to spring up owing to the growing distrust in the Provisional Government, which is preventing the Peasant Committees from disposing of the landed estates. They are growing and will continue to grow owing to the dissatisfaction with the policy of the All-Russian Executive Committee of Peasants' Deputies, which is following in the wake of the Provisional Government. An example of this is the recently formed "Soviet of Peasants' Deputies of Petrograd," 3 which embraces the entire garrison of the city, and which from its very inception came into conflict with the Provisional Government and the All-Russian Executive Committee of Peasants' Deputies.

The following is a model platform that might serve as a basis of agreement with such non-party organizations of peasants and soldiers :

1. We are opposed to the landlords and capitalists and their "Party of Popular Freedom," because they, and they alone, are the chief enemies of the Russian people. No confidence in, and no support for, the rich and their government!

2. We give our confidence and support to the working class, the devoted champion of socialism; we are for alliance and agreement of the peasants, soldiers and sailors with the workers against the landlords and capitalists.

3. We are opposed to the war, for it is a war of conquest. Any talk about peace without annexations will remain empty prating so long as the war is waged on the basis of the secret treaties concluded by the tsar with the British and French capitalists.

4. We are in favour of the speediest ending of the war by means of a determined struggle of the peoples against their imperialist governments.

5. We are opposed to the anarchy in industry, which is being aggravated by the capitalists. We are in favour of workers' control over industry; we are in favour of industry being organized on democratic lines by the intervention of the workers themselves and of a government recognized by them.

6. We are in favour of well-organized exchange of products between town and country, so that the towns may be supplied with sufficient quantities of provisions and the rural districts with sugar, paraffin, footwear, textiles, hardware and other necessary goods.

7. We are in favour of all the land—appanage, state, crown, landlord, monastery and church—being transferred to the whole people without compensation.

8. We are in favour of all unused land, arable and grazing, belonging to the landlords, being placed immediately at the disposal of democratically elected Peasant Committees.

9. We are in favour of all unused draft animals and farm implements now in the possession of landlords or in warehouses being placed immediately at the disposal of the Peasant Committees to be used for purposes of tillage, mowing, harvesting, etc.

10. We are in favour of all disabled soldiers, as well as widows and orphans, being paid allowances adequate to maintain a decent human existence.

11. We are in favour of a people's republic, without a standing army, bureaucracy, or police force.

12. In place of a standing army we demand a national guard with elected commanders.

13. In place of a non-accountable bureaucratic officialdom we demand that government servants be elected and subject to recall.

14. In place of a police exercising tutelage over the people we demand a militia chosen by election and subject to recall.

15. We are in favour of the annulment of the "orders" directed against the soldiers and sailors.

16. We are opposed to the disbanding of regiments and the incitement of soldier against soldier.

17. We are opposed to the persecution of the workers' and soldiers' press; we are opposed to restriction of free speech and assembly whether in the rear or at the front; we are opposed to arrests without trial; we are opposed to disarmament of the workers.

18. We are opposed to the reintroduction of the death penalty.

19. We are in favour of all the nations of Russia being granted the right freely to arrange their lives in their own way, and of none of them being subjected to oppression.

20. Lastly, we are in favour of all power in the country being turned over to the revolutionary Soviets of Workers and Peasants, for only such power can lead the country out of the impasse into which it has been driven by the war, the economic disruption and the high cost of living, and by the capitalists and landlords, who are battening on the people's need.

Such, in general, is the platform that might serve as a basis of agreement between our Party organizations and the non-party revolutionary groups of peasants and soldiers.

Comrades, the elections are approaching. Intervene before it is too late and organize the election campaign.

Set up mobile groups of propagandists consisting of working men and women, soldiers and sailors, and arrange short lectures on the subject of the platform.

Furnish these groups with literature and send them out to the four corners of Russia.

Let their voice arouse the countryside to the forthcoming elections to the Constituent Assembly.

Set up Party groups in the volosts and uyezds and rally the mass of the poor peasantry around them.

Organize conferences in volosts, uyezds and gu-bernias for the purpose of strengthening revolutionary party connections and nominating candidates to the Constituent Assembly.

The importance of the Constituent Assembly is immense. But immeasurably greater is the importance of the masses who are outside the Constituent Assembly. The source of strength will not be the Constituent Assembly itself, but the workers and peasants who by their struggle are creating a new revolutionary law and will impel the Constituent Assembly forward.

Know that the more organized the revolutionary masses are, the more attentively will the Constituent Assembly heed their voice, and the more assured will be the future of the Russian revolution.

The chief task in the elections, therefore, is to rally the broad mass of the peasantry around our Party.

To work, comrades!


Rabochy i Soldat, No. 4, July 27, 1917

1. The elections to the Constituent Assembly had been fixed by the Provisional Government for September 17, 1917, and the article "The Constituent Assembly Elections" was written in connection with the opening of the election campaign. The first part of the article appeared in Pravda, No. 99, July 5, but was not continued because the paper was suppressed after the July days. The article was printed in full only on July 27, in Rabochy i Soldat, No. 4.

2. The All-Russian Peasants' Union was a petty-bourgeois organization which arose in 1905 and demanded political liberty, a Constituent Assembly and the abolition of private ownership of land. It disintegrated in 1906, but resumed its activities in 1917, and on July 31 convened an All-Russian Congress in Moscow. The congress declared its unqualified support of the Provisional Government, favoured continuation of the imperialist war, and opposed the seizure of the landed estates by the peasants. In the autumn of 1917 several members of the Central Committee of the Peasants' Union took part in repressing peasant uprisings.

3. The Soviet of Peasants' Deputies of the Petrograd Garrison, which later changed its name to the Petrograd Soviet of Peasants' Deputies, was constituted on April 14, 1917, from representatives of the military units and some of the industrial plants of Petrograd. Its chief object was to secure the transfer of the tenure of all land to the peasants without compensation. It opposed the compromising policy of the All-Russian Soviet of Peasants' Deputies, which was controlled by Rightwing Socialist-Revolutionaries. After the October Socialist Revolution the Petrograd Soviet of Peasants' Deputies took an active part in the establishment of Soviet rule in the countryside and in the implementation of the Decree on the Land. The Soviet terminated its existence in February 1918 with the demobilization of the old army.