J. V. Stalin

The Democratic Conference

September 14, 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 Democratic Conference opens today.

We shall not stop to discuss why a conference, and not a Congress of Soviets was convened. There can be no denying that in appealing at a difficult moment of history not to a Congress of Soviets, but to a conference in which bourgeois elements participate, the Central Executive Committee, which was elected by a Congress of Soviets, is guilty not only of a gross breach of formality, but also of an impermissible substitution of the will of the anti-revolutionary classes for the will of the revolutionary classes. It was obviously the "idea" of the leaders of the Central Executive Committee to bring in the propertied elements at all costs. . . .

Nor shall we stop to discuss why a number of workers' and soldiers' Soviets, which defeated the forces of counter-revolution in open combat, have been denied a voice at a conference which has been convened to decide the question of power, while propertied elements who directly or indirectly supported the counter-revolutionaries have been allowed a voice. It has generally been the case in the history of revolutions that the bourgeoisie gladly allowed the workers and peasants to fight singlehanded, at their own risk, but always took measures to prevent the victorious workers and peasants from enjoying the fruits of their victory and assuming power themselves. We did not think that the Central Executive Committee would completely disgrace itself by following the example of the bourgeoisie in this respect. . . .

Quite naturally, a number of workers' and soldiers' local organizations, in the rear and at the front, in Central Russia and Kharkov, in the Donets Basin and Siberia, in Samara and Dvinsk, vehemently protested against this outrageous violation of the rights of the revolution.

But, we repeat, we shall not stop to discuss this. Let us pass to the chief point:

The conference has been convened to define the conditions necessary for the "organization of the revolutionary power."

Well, then, how is power to be organized?

Undoubtedly, you can only organize what you possess—you can't organize power when it is in the hands of others. A conference that undertakes to organize power which it does not possess, power which is concentrated in the hands of Kerensky, and which Kerensky has once already launched against the "Soviets and the Bolsheviks" in Petrograd—such a conference must find itself in the most idiotic predicament at the first attempt it makes to pass from word to deed.

For one thing or the other:

Either the conference really does "take" power, come what may—in which case it can, and must, discuss the organization of the revolutionary power it has won.

Or the conference does not "take" power, does not break with Kerensky—in which case discussing the organization of power must inevitably degenerate into empty prattling.

But let us assume—let us assume for a moment— that by some miracle power has been taken and all that remains is to organize it. Well, then, how is it to be organized? On what basis is it to be constructed?

"On the basis of a coalition with the bourgeoisie!" answer the Avksentyevs and Tseretelis in chorus.

"Without a coalition with the bourgeoisie there can be no salvation!" cry Dyen, Volya Naroda and the other echoers of the imperialist bourgeoisie.

But we have already had six months of coalition with the bourgeoisie. What has it given us, except greater disruption and the torments of hunger, prolongation of the war and economic disintegration, four crises of power and the Kornilov revolt, exhaustion of the country and financial subjection to the West?

Is that not enough for Messieurs the compromisers?

They talk about the strength and might of coalition, about "broadening the basis" of the revolution and so on. But why did the coalition with the bourgeoisie, the coalition with the Cadets, vanish like smoke at the first breath of the Kornilov revolt? Did not the Cadets desert the government? Where, then, does the "strength" of coalition and "broadening the basis" of the revolution come in?

Will Messieurs the compromisers ever realize that it is impossible to "save the revolution" by an alliance with deserters?

Who was it that upheld the revolution and its conquests at the time of the Kornilov revolt?

Was it, perhaps, the "bourgeois liberals"? But they were in one camp with the Kornilovites against the revolution and its Committees. Milyukov and Maklakov are now saying so openly.

Or was it the "merchant and industrial classes"? But they, too, were in one camp with Kornilov. Guchkov, Ryabushinsky and the other "public men" who were at that time at Kornilov's headquarters now say so openly.

Will Messieurs the compromisers ever realize that coalition with the bourgeoisie means an alliance with the Kornilovs and Lukomskys?

People are talking about the growing disruption of industry, and facts are cited which convict the lockout capitalists of deliberately curtailing production. . . . People are talking about the shortage of raw materials, and facts are cited which convict the profiteering merchants of concealing cotton, coal, etc. . . . People are talking about the starvation in the cities, and facts are cited which convict the speculating banks of artificially holding back supplies of grain. . . . Will Messieurs the compromisers ever realize that coalition with the bourgeoisie, coalition with the propertied elements, means an alliance with swindlers and profiteers, an alliance with marauders and lockout capitalists?

Is it not self-evident that only by combating the landlords and capitalists, only by combating the imperialists of all brands, only by combating and vanquishing them, can the country be saved from starvation and disruption, from economic exhaustion and financial bankruptcy, from disintegration and degeneration?

And since the Soviets and Committees have proved to be the main bulwarks of the revolution, since the Soviets and Committees quelled the counter-revolutionary revolt, is it not obvious that they, and they alone, should now be the chief repositories of revolutionary power in the country?

How is the revolutionary power to be organized, you ask?

But it is already being organized—apart from the conference and perhaps in defiance of the conference—in the course of the struggle against counter-revolution, on the basis of an actual break with the bourgeoisie and in a fight against the bourgeoisie. It is being organized from revolutionary workers, peasants and soldiers.

The elements of this power are the revolutionary Committees and Soviets in the rear and at the front.

The embryo of this power is that Left wing which, presumably, will take shape at the conference.

The conference will have to sanction and complete this process of establishing a revolutionary power, or else put itself at the mercy of Kerensky and depart from the scene.

The Central Executive Committee already attempted to take the revolutionary road yesterday by rejecting a coalition with the Cadets.

But the Cadets are the only bourgeois party of weight. Will Messieurs the compromisers realize that there are no other bourgeois circles with which to form a coalition?

Will they have the courage to make the choice?

We shall see.


Rabochy Put No. 10, September 14, 1917