J. V. Stalin

Two Courses

August 15, 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 fundamental issue in the present situation is the war. The economic disruption and the food problem, the question of the land and political liberty are all component parts of the one general problem of the war.

What is the cause of the disruption of the food supply?

The prolonged war, which has disorganized transport and left the towns without bread.

What is the cause of the financial and economic disruption?

The unending war, which is draining Russia's energies and resources.

What is the cause of the repressive measures at the front and in the rear?

The war and the policy of the offensive, which demands "iron discipline."

What is the cause of the triumph of the bourgeois counter-revolution?

The whole course of the war, which demands ever new thousands of millions, while our native bourgeoisie, supported by the Allied bourgeoisie, refuses to grant credits unless the principal gains of the revolution are annulled.

And so on, and so forth.

In view of this, the way to settle all the various "crises" which are now strangling the country is to settle the question of the war.

But how is this to be done?

Two courses lie before Russia.

Either continuation of the war and a further "offensive" at the front, in which case power must inevitably be transferred to the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, in order that money may be obtained by internal and foreign loans.

"Saving" the country in that case would mean defraying the cost of the war at the expense of the workers and peasants (indirect taxes!) to suit the Russian and Allied imperialist sharks.

Or transfer of power to the workers and peasants, declaration of democratic terms of peace and cessation of the war, in order to advance the revolution further by transferring the land to the peasants, establishing workers' control over industry and restoring the collapsing national economy at the expense of the profits of the capitalists and landlords.

Saving the country in this case would mean delivering the workers and peasants from the financial burden of the war at the expense of the imperialist sharks.

The first course would lead to the dictatorship of the landlords and capitalists over the toilers, to the imposition of crushing taxation on the country, to the gradual bartering away of Russia to foreign capitalists (concessions!), and to the conversion of Russia into a colony of Britain, America and France.

The second course would usher in an era of workers' revolutions in the West, snap the financial ties that bind Russia, shake the very foundations of bourgeois rule and pave the way for the real emancipation of Russia.

These are the two courses. They reflect the interests of two opposite classes—the imperialist bourgeoisie and the socialist proletariat.

There is no third course.

To reconcile these two courses is as impossible as it is to reconcile imperialism and socialism.

The course of compromise (coalition) with the bourgeoisie is doomed to inevitable failure.

"Coalition on the basis of a democratic platform— such is the solution," write the defencist gentry in connection with the Moscow Conference (Izvestia 1)

Not true, Messieurs the compromisers!

Three times have you arranged coalitions with the bourgeoisie, and each time you have landed in a new crisis of power."


Because coalition with the bourgeoisie is a false course, one that would cover up the evils of the present situation.

Because coalition is either an empty word, or else a means by which the imperialist bourgeoisie can strengthen its power with the helping hand of the "Socialists."

Did not the present coalition government, which tried to seat itself between the two camps, eventually go over to the side of imperialism?

Why has the "Moscow Conference" been convened, if not to consolidate the position of the counter-revolutionaries and receive sanction (and credits!) for this step from the "men of the land"?

What does Kerensky's speech at the "conference" appealing for "sacrifice" and "class self-denial" in the interests, of course, of the "country" and the "war" amount to, if not to an appeal for the consolidation of imperialism?

And what about Prokopovich's statement that the government "will not tolerate interference of the workers (workers' control!) in the management of the factories"?

What about the statement by the same Minister that "the government will not introduce any radical reforms in the sphere of the land question"?

What about Nekrasov's statement that "the government will not consent to confiscation of private property"?

What is all this, if not directly serving the cause of the imperialist bourgeoisie?

Is it not obvious that coalition is only a mask suitable and profitable to the Milyukovs and Ryabu-shinskys?

Is it not obvious that the policy of compromise and manoeuvring between the classes is a policy of deceiving and fooling the masses?

No, Messieurs the compromisers, the time has come when there can be no place for vacillation and compromise. There is already definite talk in Moscow of a counter-revolutionary "conspiracy." The bourgeois press is resorting to the tried and tested method of intimidation by spreading rumours about the "surrender of Riga." 2 At such a moment you have to choose:

Either with the proletariat, or against it.

By boycotting the "conference," the Petrograd and Moscow proletarians are urging the course that will really save the revolution.

Heed their voice, or get out of the way!


Proletary, No. 2, August 15, 1917


1. Izvestia (Gazette) of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies was a newspaper which began publication on February 28, 1917. It became the organ of the Central Executive Committee of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'Deputies when the latter was constituted at the First All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and, beginning with its 132nd issue (August 1, 1917), appeared under the name of Izvestia of the Central Executive Committee and Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies. The paper was controlled by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries and conducted a bitter fight against the Bolshevik Party, but on October 27, 1917, after the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, it became the official organ of the Soviet Government. In March 1918 its editorial offices were transferred from Petrograd to Moscow when the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars removed to the latter city.

2. On August 19, 1917, the German army began operations for piercing the Russian front at Riga. The Russian troops put up vigorous resistance, but the supreme command, represented by Kornilov, ordered a retreat, and on August 21 Riga was occupied by the Germans. The city was surrendered by Kornilov in order to create a threat to revolutionary Petrograd, secure the withdrawal of the revolutionary army units from that city, and thus facilitate the plot against the revolution.