J. V. Stalin

What do the Capitalists Want?

August 6, 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 Second All-Russian Congress of Merchants and Manufacturers opened in Moscow the other day. It was inaugurated with a programmatic speech by the leader of the nationalists, Ryabushinsky the millionaire.

What did Ryabushinsky say?

What is the capitalists' program?

The workers need to know, especially now that the capitalists command the government, and the Menshe-viks and Socialist-Revolutionaries are flirting with them as "virile forces."

For the capitalists are the sworn enemies of the workers, and in order to vanquish our enemies we must first know who they are.

What, then, do the capitalists want?

Who Wields the Power?

The capitalists are not empty chatterers. They are men of action. They know that the fundamental issue of revolution and counter-revolution is the question of power. It is not surprising, therefore, that Ryabushinsky began his speech with this fundamental question.

"Our Provisional Government," he said, "which represented only a semblance of power, was under the pressure of outsiders. Actually a gang of political charlatans had enthroned themselves in power. The Soviet pseudo-leaders of the people were leading them to disaster, and the whole realm of Russia was on the brink of a yawning abyss" (Rech).

That "actually a gang of political charlatans had enthroned themselves in power" is, of course, true. But it is no less true that these "charlatans" must be sought for not among the "Soviet leaders," but among the Ryabushinskys themselves, among those friends of Ryabushinsky who on July 2 resigned from the Provisional Government, bargained for weeks over Ministerial portfolios, blackmailed the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik simpletons by threatening to deprive the government of credits, and finally achieved their object and compelled them to dance to their tune.

For it is these "charlatans," and not the "Soviet leaders," who dictated to the government the arrests and raids, the shootings and the death penalty.

It is these "charlatans" who are "exerting pressure" on the government and transforming it into a shield to protect them from the wrath of the people.

It is these "charlatans," and not the "Soviet leaders," devoid of power, who "actually have enthroned themselves in power" in Russia.

But that, of course, is not the point at issue. The point at issue is that the Soviets, before which only yesterday the capitalists were cringing, and which are now defeated, still retain a fragment of power, and now the capitalists want to deprive them of this last shred in order the more securely to establish their own power.

That is what Mr. Ryabushinsky has in mind first of all.

Do you want to know what the capitalists want?

All power to the capitalists — that is what they want.

Who Is Bringing Disaster on Russia?

Ryabushinsky spoke not only of the present. He is not averse to "casting a glance back on the preceding months." And what does he find? "Summing up the situation," he discovers, among other things, that "we have reached a sort of impasse from which we cannot extricate ourselves. . . . The food problem has become utterly unmanageable, Russia's economic and financial affairs are thoroughly dislocated, etc."

And those responsible for this, it appears, are these same "comrades" of the Soviets, these "squanderers" who ought to be "put under guardianship."

"The land of Russia will groan in their comradely embrace so long as the people do not see through them; and when they do see through them they will say: 'You are deceivers of the people!'"

That Russia has been driven into an impasse, that she is in a state of profound crisis, that she is on the brink of disaster, is, of course, true.

But is it not strange:

1) That whereas before the war there was a superfluity of grain in Russia and every year we exported 400-500 million poods, now, during the war, there is a shortage of grain and we are compelled to starve?

2) That whereas before the war Russia's national debt amounted to 9,000 million rubles, and to pay the interest on it only 400 million rubles were required annually, during the three years of the war the national debt has risen to 60,000 million rubles, requiring 3,000 million rubles annually for the payment of interest alone?

Is it not clear that Russia has been driven into an impasse by the war, and only by the war?

But who impelled Russia into the war, and who is impelling her to continue the war, if not these selfsame Ryabushinskys and Konovalovs, Milyukovs and Vinavers?

There are "squanderers" in plenty in Russia, and they are bringing disaster upon her—of that there can be no doubt. But they must be sought for not among the "comrades," but among the Ryabushinskys and Konovalovs, the capitalists and bankers, who are making millions out of war contracts and government loans.

And when, some day, the Russian people see through them, they will make short work of them—of that they may rest assured.

But that, of course, is not the point at issue. The point at issue is that the capitalists are thirsting for their profitable "war to a finish," but are afraid to answer for its consequences, and so they are trying to throw the blame on the "comrades," in order to be able the more easily to drown the revolution in the welter of war.

That is what Mr. Ryabushinsky's speech hinted at. Do you want to know what the capitalists want? War until complete victory over the revolution — that is what they want.

*     *     *

Who Is Betraying Russia?

After describing the critical state of Russia, Ryabu-shinsky proposed a "way out of the situation." And listen to the "way out" he proposes:

"The government has not given the people bread, or coal, or textiles. . . . Perhaps to find a way out of the situation we shall need the gaunt hand of famine, the destitution of the people, which would seize by the throat the false friends of the people— the democratic Soviets and Committees."

Do you hear that? "We shall need the gaunt hand of famine, the destitution of the people."...

The Ryabushinskys, it appears, are not averse to bestowing "famine" and "destitution" upon Russia in order to "seize by the throat" the "democratic Soviets and Committees."

They are not averse, it appears, to closing down mills and factories or creating unemployment and starvation, in order to provoke the people to give premature battle and the more thoroughly to settle accounts with the workers and peasants.

There you have them, these "virile forces" of the country, on the testimony of Rabochaya Gazeta and Delo Naroda !

There you have them, the real traitors and betrayers of Russia!

Many are talking about treachery in Russia today. Former gendarmes and present secret service agents, incompetent hirelings and dissolute souteneurs are all writing about treachery, hinting at the "democratic Soviets and Committees." Let the workers know that the lying talk about treachery is only a camouflage to conceal the real betrayers of much-suffering Russia!

Do you want to know what the capitalists want?

The triumph of the interests of their purses, even if it means the doom of Russia — that is what they want.


Rabochy i Soldat, No. 13, August 6, 1917