J. V. Stalin

Two Lines

September 16, 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 question of a revolution is the question of power. The character of a revolution, its course and outcome wholly depend upon who wields power, upon which class is in power. What is called a crisis of power is nothing but an outward manifestation of a struggle of classes for power. A revolutionary epoch, indeed, is remarkable for the fact that in it the struggle for power assumes its most acute and naked form. That explains our "chronic" crisis of power, which is being still further aggravated by war, disruption and famine. That explains the "astonishing" fact that not a single "conference" or "congress" can be held nowadays without the question of power inevitably arising.

And it arose, inevitably, at the Democratic Conference in the Alexandrinsky Theatre.

Two lines on the question of power have been revealed at the conference.

The first line is that of open coalition with the Cadet Party. It is advocated by the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary defencists. It was urged at the conference by that inveterate compromiser, Tsereteli.

The second line is that of a radical break with the Cadet Party. It is advocated by our Party and the internationalists in the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties. It was urged at the conference by Kamenev.

The first line leads to the establishment of the power of the imperialist bourgeoisie over the people. For our experience of coalition governments has shown that coalition with the Cadets means the rule of the landlord over the peasant who is not being given land; the rule of the capitalist over the worker who is being doomed to unemployment; the rule of a minority over the majority, which is being condemned to be devoured by war and economic disruption, starvation and ruin.

The second line leads to the establishment of the power of the people over the landlords and capitalists. For breaking with the Cadet Party in fact means ensuring land to the peasants, control to the workers, and a just peace to the toiling majority.

The first line is an expression of confidence in the present government, and would leave the entire power in its hands.

The second line is an expression of no confidence in the government, and calls for the transfer of power to the direct representatives of the workers', peasants', and soldiers' Soviets.

There are people who dream of reconciling these two irreconcilable lines. One of them is Chernov, who at the conference came out against the Cadets, but in favour of a coalition with the capitalists, if (!) the capitalists renounced (!) their own interests.

The intrinsic falsity of Chernov's "position" is self-evident; but the important thing is not that it is self-contradictory, but that it surreptitiously smuggles in Tsereteli's rubbish about coalition with the Cadet Party.

For it would give Kerensky a free hand, "acting on the platform of the conference," to "enlarge" the government with diverse Buryshkins and Kishkins, who are prepared to put their name to any platform without any intention of carrying it out.

For this false "position" would help Kerensky in his fight against the Soviets and Committees by placing a weapon in his hand in the shape of an advisory "Pre-parliament."

Chernov's "line" is the same line as Tsereteli's, only "cunningly" masked in order to ensnare simpletons in the "coalition" trap.

There are grounds for believing that the conference will follow Chernov's lead.

But the conference is not the court of highest instance.

The two lines we have described only reflect what exists in actual fact. And in actual fact we have not one power, but two: the official power, the Directory, and the unofficial power, the Soviets and Committees.

The struggle between these two powers—although still muffled and unrealized—is the characteristic feature of the moment.

The conference is evidently intended to be the makeweight which will tip the scales in favour of the power of the Directory.

But let Messieurs the compromisers, overt and covert, know that whoever supports the Directory helps to establish the power of the bourgeoisie and must inevitably come into conflict with the worker and soldier masses, must come out in opposition to the Soviets and Committees.

Messieurs the compromisers cannot but know that it is the revolutionary Committees and Soviets that will have the last word.


Rabochy Put No. 12, September 16, 1917